Department of Psychology pres.
Developmental Brown Bag
Ka Ip and Nick Waters, Doctoral Students
Title: Are children’s neurobiological systems of stress sensitive to culture?
Abstract:Human beliefs, practices and behaviors are shaped by culture. Evolutionary theories suggest that biology and culture co-evolved, such that a symbiotic relationship exists between biology and culture. In order to adapt to the cultural environment, throughout development, human biology may have to become more sensitive to contexts that are most salient (or threatening) to one’s culture. Can we observe such a neurobiological sensitivity to cultural contexts in young children? Through assessments of preschoolers in the US, China and Japan, I will determine whether children’s neurobiological systems of stress are differentially sensitive to cultural contexts. By using three different stress paradigms designed to induce challenges that are relevant to their corresponding cultural contexts, I will examine whether children’s 4-year-old children’s salivary cortisol reactivity is more reactive to psychosocial stressors that are salient in their cultures. These findings are discussed as part of understanding how culture may shape children’s regulation at different levels of processing (emotion expressions, cortisol, motor activity).
Bio: Ka is a 5th year PhD student in developmental psychology and clinical science. His research focuses on examining the developmental, neurobiological and cultural processes underlying early self-regulation.
Title: Socioeconomic Differences in Kindergartners’ Performance Monitoring: An ERP Investigation
Abstract: Extensive research has documented relations between socioeconomic status (SES)—comprised of parent educational attainment, occupation, and family income—and the development of children’s self-regulation skills. However, only recently have researchers begun investigating the neural mechanisms underlying these relations. One facet of self-regulation—performance monitoring—can be indexed at the level of electrophysiological activity and has demonstrated measurement reliability in young children. The goal of this study was to investigate relations between components of SES and event-related potentials (ERPs) associated with performance monitoring, including the error-related negativity (ERN) and error positivity (Pe), measured in a sample of kindergarten children during a child friendly Go/No-Go task. Results indicated that family income-to-needs predicted the magnitude of children’s Pe responses, whereas neither indicator of SES predicted the magnitude of the ERN. Given the Pe reflects the awareness of committing an error, affective responses to erring, and processes related to adaptive performance following mistake responses, these results provoke future investigation as to whether the Pe may be a potential mechanism linking SES to performance differences in assessments of children’s self-regulation.
Bio: Nick is a third-year Ph.D. candidate working with Pam Davis-Kean, Fred Morrison and, as a member of the developmental training grant, Bill Gehring. He received his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Michigan. His research focuses on understanding the role of contextual factors, including socioeconomic status and parenting, in shaping the development of children’s executive functioning and academic skills.
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