Publications by authors named "Louis A Schmidt"

196 Publications

Trajectories of behavioral avoidance in real time: Associations with temperament and physiological dysregulation in preschoolers.

J Exp Child Psychol 2021 Jun 2;209:105177. Epub 2021 Jun 2.

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON L8S 4L8, Canada.

Although excessive avoidance has been implicated in mental health problems and socioemotional difficulties, relatively little is known about dynamic changes of avoidance behaviors. We used a latent class growth analysis to examine the temporal course of avoidance behaviors in real time and determined whether the derived classes were distinguishable on temperament and physiological markers of regulation and reactivity (N = 153; M = 4.20 years). A three-class solution was found and identified a low, medium, and high increasing avoidance group. The high and increasing avoidance group had the highest physiological reactivity (cortisol reactivity) and shyness, and the lowest physiological regulation (i.e., respiratory sinus arrythmia suppression). High and increasing avoidance may therefore be associated with temperamental and physiological indices of risk implicated in maladjustment and highlight the value of data-driven, group-based approaches for examining dynamic patterns of behavior.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2021.105177DOI Listing
June 2021

Children's shyness and neural responses to social exclusion: Patterns of midfrontal theta power usually not observed until adolescence.

Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci 2021 Jun 5. Epub 2021 Jun 5.

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Adverse peer experiences, such as social exclusion, are known risks for socioemotional problems among shy youth. Yet, little is known about how shy children and adolescents process social exclusion in the brain and whether these responses are amplified in adolescence. Using the Cyberball task, we examined mediofrontal theta (4-7 Hz) event-related EEG spectral power during conditions of fair play and social exclusion in 122 participants (58 children, ages 10-12 years, and 64 adolescents, ages 14-17 years). Age effects of the task showed that adolescents displayed heightened theta power to both outright rejection and baseline "not my turn" events, whereas children showed higher theta power to rejection compared with "not my turn" events. Further results on individual differences showed that children with relatively higher levels of shyness displayed enhanced theta power to both rejection and "not my turn" events-a pattern that also was observed in adolescents. These findings suggest that a pattern of heightened neural sensitivity to both outright social exclusion and threats of exclusion, which is the norm by adolescence, also is observed in children with higher levels of shyness. The similar neural response pattern might be driven by salient social motivations that similarly modify the social cognition and behaviors of these groups and might reflect neural antecedents of rejection sensitivity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13415-021-00916-7DOI Listing
June 2021

Helping as prosocial practice: Longitudinal relations among children's shyness, helping behavior, and empathic response.

J Exp Child Psychol 2021 Jun 1;209:105154. Epub 2021 Jun 1.

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behaviour, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4K1, Canada.

Although shyness has been found to be a concurrent constraint on young children's empathy and instrumental helping, there is limited evidence to suggest that this temperamental profile has longitudinal effects on prosocial behaviors. Here, we examined the concurrent and longitudinal relations between children's shyness and prosocial behaviors, as well as the intervening impact of instrumental helping behavior on later empathic response in typically developing children (N = 86; 45 female). Shyness was coded from direct observations and reported by parents at Time 1 (M = 54.3 months, SD = 2.9), Time 2 (M = 66.5 months, SD = 2.8), and Time 3 (M = 77.9 months, SD = 2.8), helping behavior was assessed at Time 2, and data on cognitive and affective empathy were collected at Time 3. Increases in shyness resulted in longitudinal reductions of affective empathy but not cognitive empathy or instrumental helping. As well, Time 2 helping behavior mediated the relation between Time 1 shyness and Time 3 affective empathy and, to some extent, the relation between Time 2 shyness and Time 3 affective empathy. These findings suggest that shyness concurrently impedes early helping behaviors, and that this withdrawal may contribute to reductions in shy children's prosocial learning opportunities that inform later empathic responses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2021.105154DOI Listing
June 2021

Negative Emotionality and Internalizing Behaviors in Preschool Children: Moderating Role of Inhibitory Control.

Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 2021 May 26. Epub 2021 May 26.

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behavior, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.

Negative emotionality in childhood is typically positively associated with internalizing behaviors, whereas inhibitory control is negatively associated with internalizing behaviors. Recent work, however, has also found that inhibitory control paradoxically increases risk for internalizing behaviors in the context of some reactive temperamental styles. The purpose of the present study was to examine whether inhibitory control moderated the association between negative emotionality and prospective internalizing behaviors in typically developing preschoolers (N = 104, 51 girls, M = 3.46 years, SD = 0.19). We found that negative emotionality at T1 was only positively associated with internalizing behaviors at T2 in preschoolers with relatively higher inhibitory control. Our results suggest that relatively high levels of inhibitory control may be less adaptive for children who also have relatively high levels of negative emotionality. Findings are discussed in the context of cognitive overcontrol in understanding risk for internalizing behaviors before formal school entry.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10578-021-01189-4DOI Listing
May 2021

Extremely Low Birth Weight and Accelerated Biological Aging.

Pediatrics 2021 Jun 17;147(6). Epub 2021 May 17.

Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario; and.

Background And Objectives: Extremely low birth weight (ELBW) (<1000 g) survivors are exposed to elevated levels of physiologic stress during their lives and may be susceptible to accelerated aging. Using the oldest known longitudinally followed cohort of ELBW survivors, we compared biological aging in this group using an epigenetic clock to a sample of matched normal birth weight (NBW) (>2500 g) control participants.

Methods: Buccal cells were collected from 45 ELBW survivors and 49 NBW control participants at 30 to 35 years of age. Epigenetic age was calculated from the weighted average of DNA methylation at 353 cytosine-phosphate-guanine sequence within DNA sites, by using the Illumina Infinium Human Methylation EPIC 850k BeadChip array.

Results: Before and after statistically adjusting for neurosensory impairment and the presence of chronic health conditions, a significant sex by birth weight group interaction was observed in the 353-site epigenetic-clock assay ( = .03), whereby ELBW men had a significantly older epigenetic age than NBW men (4.6 years; = .01). Women born at ELBW were not found to be epigenetically older than their NBW peers.

Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that prenatal exposures may play an important role in aging, and that men born preterm may experience accelerated aging relative to their peers. We further highlight the need to monitor and promote the health of preterm survivors, with a particular focus on healthy aging across the life span.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1542/peds.2020-001230DOI Listing
June 2021

Vigilant or avoidant? Children's temperamental shyness, patterns of gaze, and physiology during social threat.

Dev Sci 2021 May 17. Epub 2021 May 17.

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Temperamental shyness is characterized by fear, wariness, and the perception of threat in response to social novelty. Previous work has been inconsistent regarding attentional patterns to social threat among shy children, with evidence for both avoidance and vigilance. We examined relations between children's shyness and gaze aversion during the approach of a stranger (i.e., a context of social novelty), and tested whether these patterns of gaze moderated relations between shyness and autonomic reactivity and recovery. Participants included 152 typically-developing children (M = 7.82 years, SD = 0.44 years) who had their respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) recorded during baseline, social novelty, and recovery. Children's shyness correlated with increases in self-reported nervousness from baseline to social novelty, providing support for perceived threat. Results revealed that children's proportion of gaze aversion from social novelty was related to shyness in a U-shape pattern such that both low levels of gaze aversion (i.e., attentional vigilance) and high levels of gaze aversion (i.e., attentional avoidance) were related to higher levels of shyness. Further, we found that children's shyness was directly related to decreases in RSA from baseline to social novelty, whereas quadratic gaze to social novelty moderated the relation between shyness and RSA recovery. Specifically, shyness was related to greater RSA recovery among children who exhibited attentional vigilance during the novel social interaction. Our findings provide support for both avoidance of, and vigilance to, social threat among different shy children, and these gaze strategies may be differentially related to physiological regulation during novel social encounters.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/desc.13118DOI Listing
May 2021

The role of anxiety and related states in pediatric postsurgical pain.

Can J Pain 2020 Dec 30;4(4):26-36. Epub 2020 Dec 30.

Department of Anesthesia, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Nearly 20% of children and adolescents have pain with disability 1 year after surgery, and they experience poor sleep, school absence, and decreased activities. Negative clinical, psychological, and developmental effects include greater pain medication use, longer recovery, and fear of future medical care. Research has found psychological and family influences (i.e., child and parental anxiety) on pediatric chronic postsurgical pain (CPSP), but a better understanding of the role of perioperative anxiety and its related states in predicting pediatric postsurgical pain is needed. The poor understanding of the causes of child CPSP can lead to misdiagnosis and inadequate treatment, with significant short- and long-term effects. The aim of this review was to summarize the literature on children's perioperative anxiety and parental anxiety in relation to acute postsurgical pain, CPSP, and pain trajectories. We also examined other related psychological factors (i.e., anxiety sensitivity, catastrophizing, pain anxiety, and fear of pain) in relation to pediatric acute and chronic postsurgical pain. Lastly, we discuss the interventions that may be effective in reducing children's and parents' preoperative anxiety. Our findings may improve the understanding of the causes of CPSP and highlight the gaps in research and need for further study.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/24740527.2020.1847600DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7942768PMC
December 2020

Temperamental Shyness, Frontal EEG Theta/Beta Ratio, and Social Anxiety in Children.

Child Dev 2021 Apr 22. Epub 2021 Apr 22.

McMaster University.

The authors examined how children's frontal electroencephalogram (EEG) theta/beta ratio-an index of neurocognitive control-changed from baseline to a social stressor, and whether these EEG changes moderated the relation between temperament and anxiety. Children (N = 152; M  = 7.82 years, 52% male, 81% White) had their EEG recorded during a baseline and speech anticipation condition. Children's frontal theta/beta ratio decreased from baseline to speech anticipation, and this baseline-to-task change moderated the relation between temperamental shyness and social anxiety. Temperamental shyness was related to higher state and trait social anxiety only among children with large baseline-to-task decreases in theta/beta ratio. Findings are consistent with theoretical models hypothesizing that temperamentally shy children with heightened neurocognitive control may be at greater risk for anxiety.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13564DOI Listing
April 2021

Revisiting Shyness and Sociability in Schizophrenia: A Psychometric Examination of Measurement Invariance and Mean Level Differences.

J Pers Assess 2021 Mar 24:1-18. Epub 2021 Mar 24.

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Although there is a long and rich empirical history of demonstrating differences on psychological self-report measures between people with schizophrenia and healthy controls, the question of whether both groups respond to psychological measures in the same way has gone largely unexplored. That is, is there measurement equivalence, or invariance, across the samples? To our knowledge, there have been no published studies on measurement equivalency in personality measures across groups diagnosed with and without schizophrenia. Here we examined the question of measurement invariance on two widely used questionnaires assessing temperament, the Cheek and Buss Shyness and Sociability Scales (CBSHY and CBSOC, respectively) between 147 stable adult outpatients with schizophrenia and 147 healthy age- and sex-matched controls. Results supported measurement invariance of the CBSHY and CBSOC across our clinical and non-clinical groups. These findings suggested that stable adult outpatients with schizophrenia and age- and sex-matched controls respond to the shyness and sociability items in the same way. We found that adults with schizophrenia reported higher levels of shyness and lower levels of sociability than healthy controls, consistent with prior studies. Findings are discussed concerning their relevance more broadly to self-report assessments of personality and psychological traits in clinical populations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00223891.2021.1895183DOI Listing
March 2021

Development of shyness across adolescence: Reactivity, regulation, or both?

Dev Psychol 2021 Mar;57(3):421-431

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour, McMaster University.

The reactivity-regulation model suggests that the origins and maintenance of shyness results from relatively high levels of reactivity in combination with relatively low levels of regulation. Although this model has received some empirical support, there are still issues regarding directionality of the relations among variables and a dearth of studies examining the joint influence of reactivity and regulation on the prospective development of shyness. Using a longitudinal design, we first examined whether the relations among reactivity, regulation, and shyness were unidirectional or bidirectional in a sample of 1284 children (49.8% female, 84.1% White; mean parental education fell between associate degree/diploma and undergraduate degree) assessed annually across three waves from late childhood and early adolescence (Mage = 10.72 years) to adolescence (Mage = 12.42 years) and then examined whether reactivity and regulation interacted to influence the development of shyness over time. At Wave 1, shyness was related to higher levels of reactivity and lower levels of regulation at Wave 2, but neither reactivity nor regulation at Wave 1 predicted shyness at Wave 2. At Wave 2, shyness predicted greater reactivity at Wave 3, but shyness at Wave 3 was only predicted by lower levels of regulation at Wave 2. Contrary to the reactivity-regulation model of shyness, we found that relatively high levels of reactivity and low levels of regulation predicted a steep decrease in shyness over 3 years. These results are discussed in the context of the socioemotional difficulties experienced by shy individuals and demonstrate the importance of empirically evaluating long-standing models of personality development. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/dev0001159DOI Listing
March 2021

While a shy child waits: Autonomic and affective responses during the anticipation and delivery of a speech.

Emotion 2021 Mar 4. Epub 2021 Mar 4.

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour.

Shyness is a temperament characterized by wariness to social novelty and perceived social evaluation. However, we know relatively little about temperamentally shy children's psychophysiological and affective responses during different phases of social stressors. We examined whether children's temperamental shyness was related to distinct patterns of autonomic and affective responses across three conditions: baseline, speech anticipation, and speech delivery. Participants included 152 children ( = 7.82 years, = 0.44) who had their autonomic nervous system activity [respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) and heart rate (HR)] and subjective nervousness assessed across each experimental condition. Children's temperamental shyness was assessed according to parent- and child-report. Using a latent difference score framework to model dynamic changes across task phases, we found that higher levels of parent-reported shyness was related to decreases in RSA from baseline to speech anticipation followed by increases in RSA from speech anticipation to delivery. Further, higher levels of parent-reported shyness were related to increases in HR from baseline to speech anticipation, and higher levels of child-reported shyness was related to increases in subjective nervousness from baseline to speech anticipation. These findings illustrate that children with higher levels of temperamental shyness may experience autonomic and emotion dysregulation particularly during the anticipation of social stressors, which may reflect their tendency to react to perceived impending social threat on both physiological and affective levels. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/emo0000951DOI Listing
March 2021

Changes in infant emotion regulation following maternal cognitive behavioral therapy for postpartum depression.

Depress Anxiety 2021 04 19;38(4):412-421. Epub 2021 Jan 19.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Ontario, Canada.

Background: Exposure to maternal postpartum depression (PPD) increases the risk for emotion regulatory and psychiatric problems in offspring. This study aimed to determine if maternal cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for PPD improves infant emotion regulatory capacity.

Methods: Participants were 40 infants of mothers with a primary diagnosis of major depressive disorder matched 1:1-40 healthy control infants of nondepressed mothers on infant age, sex, and socioeconomic status. Mothers with PPD received nine weeks of group CBT. Dyads were tested at two time points. Visit 1 occurred following the first CBT session (baseline visit for control infants). Visit 2 took place after CBT (nine weeks post-baseline for controls). At both visits, infant emotion regulation was assessed using resting-state frontal electroencephalography alpha asymmetry (FAA), heart rate variability (HRV), and maternal and partner ratings of orientation or regulation behaviors (infant behavior questionnaire-revised [short form]). Changes in maternal characteristics (depression, bonding, and emotion regulation) from pretreatment to posttreatment were examined to determine if they explained infant changes.

Results: At Visit 1, infants of women with PPD exhibited poorer emotion regulation relative to the healthy control infants. At Visit 2, following maternal PPD treatment, infants exhibited improved emotion regulation (shifted from right to left FAA [p = .01, d = 0.60], increased HRV [p = .003, d = 0.56], mother [p = .015, d = 0.29] and partner [p = .049, d = 0.35] reported orientation or regulation behaviors) such that they no longer differed from the healthy control infants. Changes in maternal characteristics did not appear to account for these changes.

Conclusion: Treating PPD may promote adaptive changes in physiological and behavioral systems underlying infant emotion regulation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/da.23130DOI Listing
April 2021

Differences in Established Joint Attention in Hearing-Hearing and Hearing-Deaf Mother-Child Dyads: Associations With Social Competence, Settings, and Tasks.

Child Dev 2020 Dec 16. Epub 2020 Dec 16.

McMaster University.

The authors examined relations among observed joint attention, maternal report of child's social competence, setting (home vs. laboratory), task (unstructured vs. semi-structured), and dyad type [hearing mother-hearing child (n = 55, M  = 25.8 months) vs. hearing mother-deaf child (n = 27, M  = 26.9 months)]. Hearing child dyads scored higher on joint attention during unstructured tasks, especially in their home environment. Hearing child dyads displayed similar joint attention to deaf toddler dyads when they engaged in a semi-structured task, but higher on these measures during unstructured free play. Unlike hearing children, joint attention was differentially related to social competence in deaf children, with relatively higher versus lower social competence depending on relatively high versus low observed joint attention, respectively.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13474DOI Listing
December 2020

Transacting brains: testing an actor-partner model of frontal EEG activity in mother-infant dyads.

Dev Psychopathol 2020 Oct 27:1-12. Epub 2020 Oct 27.

Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.

Studies have long observed the bidirectional nature of mother-infant relationships. While behavioral studies have shown that mothers high in social avoidance tendencies can influence the development of these traits in their offspring, the neurophysiological mechanisms underlying this phenomenon, and the role that the infants play, are not well understood. Here we acquired frontal electroencephalogram asymmetry (FA) data simultaneously in 40 mother-infant dyads (Mage mother = 31.6 years; Mage infant = 9 months). Using an actor-partner interdependence model, we examined whether mother (or infant) resting-state FA predicted infant (or mother) FA during two subsequent emotion-eliciting conditions (happy and fear). Maternal social approach versus avoidance traits were assessed as moderators to examine the impact of maternal characteristics on these mother-infant FA relations. In dyads led by mothers with high social avoidance/low social approach characteristics, maternal resting-state FA predicted infant FA during both emotion-eliciting conditions. We did not observe any effects of infant FA on mothers. Therefore, we speculate that individual differences in FA patterns might be a putative brain mechanism through which socially avoidant mothers transfer affective/behavioral information to their infants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0954579420001558DOI Listing
October 2020

DNA methylation profiles in adults born at extremely low birth weight.

Dev Psychopathol 2020 Oct 19:1-18. Epub 2020 Oct 19.

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.

Effects of stresses associated with extremely preterm birth may be biologically "recorded" in the genomes of individuals born preterm via changes in DNA methylation (DNAm) patterns. Genome-wide DNAm profiles were examined in buccal epithelial cells from 45 adults born at extremely low birth weight (ELBW; ≤1000 g) in the oldest known cohort of prospectively followed ELBW survivors (Mage = 32.35 years, 17 male), and 47 normal birth weight (NBW; ≥2500 g) control adults (Mage = 32.43 years, 20 male). Sex differences in DNAm profiles were found in both birth weight groups, but they were greatly enhanced in the ELBW group (77,895 loci) versus the NBW group (3,424 loci), suggesting synergistic effects of extreme prenatal adversity and sex on adult DNAm profiles. In men, DNAm profiles differed by birth weight group at 1,354 loci on 694 unique genes. Only two loci on two genes distinguished between ELBW and NBW women. Gene ontology (GO) and network analyses indicated that loci differentiating between ELBW and NBW men were abundant in genes within biological pathways related to neuronal development, synaptic transportation, metabolic regulation, and cellular regulation. Findings suggest increased sensitivity of males to long-term epigenetic effects of extremely preterm birth. Group differences are discussed in relation to particular gene functions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0954579420000899DOI Listing
October 2020

Investigating convergence of cardiac and behavioral indicators of distress during routine vaccinations over the second year of life.

Dev Psychobiol 2021 Apr 11;63(3):437-451. Epub 2020 Oct 11.

University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.

There is considerable variability regarding the convergence between behavioral and biological aspects of distress responses in toddlerhood, and little research has investigated the convergence of these measures in high distress. The aim of the current study was to describe patterns of distress responses to vaccinations as indexed by both pain-related behavioral distress and heart rate (HR) at 12 and 18 months. Caregiver-toddler dyads were part of an ongoing longitudinal cohort observed during 12- (N = 158) and 18-month (N = 122) well-baby vaccinations. Parallel-process growth mixture models discerned two distinct groups at 12 months and three distinct groups at 18 months. All groups had comparable pain-related behavioral distress and HR responses post-vaccination, with most participants displaying high arousal and regulation to baseline levels following the vaccination. However, at 18 months, an important minority had a blunted response or did not regulate to a low level of distress by 3 min post-needle. Post hoc analyses revealed that higher baseline pain-related behavioral distress predicted membership in the majority groups at 12 and 18 months. These results highlight the developmental differences and variability in behavioral and cardiac indicators of distress regulation across the second year of life.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/dev.22034DOI Listing
April 2021

Maternal and Infant Performance on the Face-to-Face Still-Face Task following Maternal Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Postpartum Depression.

J Affect Disord 2021 01 29;278:583-591. Epub 2020 Sep 29.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, McMaster University, Ontario Canada.

Objective: This study examined the impact of treating postpartum depression (PPD) with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) on mother and infant behavior on the face-to-face still-face (FFSF) paradigm.

Methods: Data from 68 mothers and their infants, 35 women with PPD within 12 months of delivery, and 33 healthy control dyads matched on infant age, sex and familial socioeconomic status were examined. Women with PPD received nine weeks of group CBT and were compared with healthy control dyads with at three timepoints on changes in mother-infant performance on the FFSF.

Results: A significant group x FFSF phase x visit interaction was observed for infant withdrawn behavior at the three months post-treatment (p=0.006). Infants of mothers with PPD displayed significantly less withdrawn behavior after treatment, normalizing to levels of control infants.

Limitations: A relatively small sample consisting predominantly of Caucasian mother-infant dyads and the presence of comorbid anxiety in the PPD group.

Conclusion: Three months after group CBT for PPD, infants' withdrawn behavior appears to normalize to levels seen in the infants of healthy controls. Future studies should investigate whether treatments focused on the mother-infant dyad have distinctive effects on mothers and their infants' behaviors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2020.09.101DOI Listing
January 2021

Getting to the heart of childhood empathy: Relations with shyness and respiratory sinus arrhythmia.

Dev Psychobiol 2020 Sep 18. Epub 2020 Sep 18.

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behaviour, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.

Although prior studies have found that shyness and empathy are inversely related and that well-regulated children tend to express empathic behaviors more often, few studies have assessed combinations of these factors in predicting affective and cognitive empathy in early childhood. The authors examined relations among shyness, resting respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), and observed affective and cognitive empathy in a sample of 130 typically developing children (M  = 63.5 months, SD = 12.2; 62 males). Shyness was assessed by observing children's behaviors during a self-presentation task and this observed measure was then combined with a maternal report of children's temperamental shyness. Children's shyness predicted lower levels of both affective and cognitive responses to an experimenter feigning an injury. Resting RSA moderated the relation between children's shyness and observed empathy such that relatively higher shyness combined with lower RSA levels conferred the lowest levels of cognitive empathy. Children who were relatively low in shyness exhibited similar levels of cognitive empathy across different levels of RSA. However, this moderation was not found when predicting children's affective empathy. Our results suggest that not all shy children are alike in terms of their empathic behaviors: shy children who are physiologically dysregulated appear to have difficulties exploring and/or processing others' pain.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/dev.22035DOI Listing
September 2020

Preschoolers' Social Cognitive Development in the Age of Screen Time Ubiquity.

Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw 2021 Feb 17;24(2):141-144. Epub 2020 Sep 17.

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Is screen time exposure a double-edged sword for children's social cognitive development among today's children? We conducted a short-term prospective longitudinal study of 57 typically developing children ( = 54.7 months, standard deviation = 2.5 months; 27 female) to examine the association between quantity of screen time exposure during the preschool years (Time 1; age 4) and social cognitive outcomes 1 year later (Time 2; age 5), coinciding with the time of formal school entry. We found that, in boys, watch time and gaming time at Time 1 were associated with relatively lower scores on an academic task at Time 2, and Time 1 gaming time was associated with relatively lower theory of mind at Time 2. For girls, Time 1 watch time was associated with relatively higher prosocial behavior at Time 2. We speculate that these contrasting gender findings may be accounted for by the specific gender-targeted programming currently available to young boys and girls.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2020.0093DOI Listing
February 2021

Brain, interrupted: alpha/delta EEG ratio in survivors of pre- and post-natal adversity.

Int J Neurosci 2020 Aug 4:1-7. Epub 2020 Aug 4.

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Results: Young adults born at extremely low birth weight (prenatal adversity;  = 64 = 23.14 years, = 1.26 years) had a lower alpha/delta ratio score compared to normal birth weight controls ( 76, = 23.60 years, = 1.09 years), while youth exposed to child maltreatment (postnatal adversity;  = 39, = 16.18 years, = 1.15) had a higher alpha/delta ratio compared to controls ( = 23, = 16.00 years = 1.50 years).

Conclusions: Our results suggest that being exposed to pre- and post-natal adversity may have different long-term consequences on brain development. We speculate that these differences might be associated with some of the different functional outcomes known to characterize each type of adverse experience.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00207454.2020.1797724DOI Listing
August 2020

Positive Shyness in the Brain: Frontal Electroencephalogram Alpha Asymmetry and Delta-Beta Correlation in Children.

Child Dev 2020 09 13;91(5):e1030-e1045. Epub 2020 Jul 13.

McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Positive shyness is thought to be an approach-dominant form of shyness, whereas non-positive shyness is thought to be an avoidance-dominant form of shyness. This study examined electrocortical and behavioral correlates of motivation and emotion in relation to these shy subtypes in 67 children (M  = 10.41 years, SD = 3.23). Using resting state electroencephalography, findings revealed that positive shy and low shy children had greater relative left frontal alpha asymmetry compared to non-positive shy children, and positive shy children had a higher frontal delta-beta correlation compared to other groups. Non-positive shy children scored highest on parent-reported school avoidance. These findings converge with previous work reporting distinct correlates in positive and non-positive shyness, extending this to two brain measures of motivation and emotion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13379DOI Listing
September 2020

Distinguishing selective mutism and social anxiety in children: a multi-method study.

Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 2020 Jul 4. Epub 2020 Jul 4.

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour, McMaster University, Room 130, Psychology Building, 1280 Main Street West, Hamilton, ON, L8S 4K1, Canada.

Selective mutism (SM) is an anxiety disorder in which a child fails to speak in some situations (e.g., school) despite the ability to speak in other situations (e.g., home). Some work has conceptualized SM as a variant of social anxiety disorder (SAD) characterized by higher levels of social anxiety. Here, we empirically tested this hypothesis to see whether there were differences in social anxiety (SA) between SM and SAD across behavioral, psychophysiological, self-, parent-, and teacher-report measures. Participants included 158 children (M = 8.76 years, SD = 3.23) who were classified into three groups: children with SM and who were also highly socially anxious (SM + HSA; n = 48), highly socially anxious children without SM (HSA; n = 48), and control children (n = 62). Children participated in a videotaped self-presentation task, following which observed SA behaviors were coded, and salivary cortisol reactivity was measured. We also collected child, parent, and teacher reports of children's trait SA symptoms. The SM + HSA and HSA groups had similar observed non-verbal SA behavior, cortisol reactivity, and trait SA symptom levels according to parent and child reports, but SM + HSA children had significantly higher SA according to teacher report and observer-rated verbal SA behavior relative to the HSA group. As expected, control children had lower cortisol reactivity and SA across all measures relative to the other groups. Although SM and SAD in children share many similarities, SM may be characterized by greater SA in certain social contexts (e.g., school) and is distinguishable from SAD on behavioral measures of verbal SA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00787-020-01588-3DOI Listing
July 2020

Maternal Neural Reactivity During Pregnancy Predicts Infant Temperament.

Infancy 2020 Jan-Feb;25(1):46-66. Epub 2019 Dec 8.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.

Maternal biological systems impact infant temperament as early as the prenatal period, though the mechanisms of this association are unknown. Using a prospective, longitudinal design, we found that maternal ( = 89) amplitudes of the late positive potential (LPP) in response to negative stimuli during the second, but not the third, trimester of pregnancy predicted observed and physiological indices of temperamental reactivity in infants at age 4 months. Maternal LPP was positively associated with observed infant fear and negatively associated with frontal EEG asymmetry and cortisol reactivity in infants at age 4 months. Results identify a putative mechanism, early in pregnancy, for the intergenerational transmission of emotional reactivity from mother to infant.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/infa.12316DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7316194PMC
December 2019

Grip strength is lower in adults born with extremely low birth weight compared to term-born controls.

Pediatr Res 2021 Mar 17;89(4):996-1003. Epub 2020 Jun 17.

Department of Pediatrics, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.

Background: Grip strength predicts long-term morbidity and mortality in adults. We compared grip strength in adults born with extremely low birth weight (ELBW; under 1 kg) and a normal birth weight control group (NBW) and describe change in grip strength over a 10-year period in a longitudinal cohort study of preterm birth.

Methods: Grip strength, body composition, and device-measured physical activity were assessed in 95 mature adults (MA) born ELBW (age 31.6 (1.6) mean (SD) years, 59 females) and 88 born NBW (age 31.9 (1.4) years, 52 females). Regression models were used to examine the effect of perinatal factors, body composition, physical activity, and physical self-efficacy on grip strength.

Results: Grip strength was lower in MA born ELBW compared to NBW (31.8 (10.0) vs. 39.8 (11.2) kg; p < 0.001). Birth weight group was associated with grip strength independent of sex, height, and lean mass index, but device-measured physical activity was not. The change in grip strength from mid-20s to MA was similar in ELBW and NBW participants.

Discussion: Grip strength in MA born ELBW is low and is similar to a reference group 25-30 years older, suggesting higher risk for cardiovascular and all-cause mortality.

Impact: Adults born extremely preterm have reduced grip strength compared to control participants born at full term. Reduced grip strength is a predictor of frailty and increased cardiovascular disease risk. Change in grip strength from age in mid-20s to mid-30s is similar in those born preterm and full-term-born controls. Grip strength is related to lean mass and not to device-measured physical activity-and correlates of grip strength are similar in those born preterm and term-born controls. Grip strength is a simple measure that may provide information about the health of adults born preterm.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41390-020-1012-5DOI Listing
March 2021

The influence of pre and postnatal adversity on depression and anxiety over two decades.

J Affect Disord 2020 06 17;271:178-184. Epub 2020 Apr 17.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Canada.

Introduction: Perinatal and later postnatal adversity (e.g., child sexual abuse) are predictors of psychopathology across the lifespan. However, little is known about the impact of the joint effects of perinatal and postnatal adversity on the longitudinal trajectories of mental health problems from adolescence through adulthood.

Method: We utilized data from a prospective, longitudinal birth cohort of extremely low birth weight (ELBW; < 1000 g) survivors and normal birth weight (NBW; > 2500 g) control participants. Self-report data on internalizing (depression, anxiety) and externalizing (antisocial) problems were collected at 12-16, 22-26, and 30-35 years of age.

Results: A birth weight by child sexual abuse (CSA) interaction was observed such that ELBW survivors exposed to CSA had higher levels of internalizing problems from adolescence through adulthood than NBW participants exposed to CSA. Differences remained significant after adjustment for covariates. Likewise, ELBW survivors exposed to CSA had higher levels of internalizing problems from adolescence through adulthood than ELBW participants who were not exposed to CSA.

Limitations: Findings are limited by sample attrition due to the longitudinal nature of the study spanning over 30 years as well as the retrospective nature of child sexual abuse reporting.

Conclusions: Exposure to both perinatal and later postnatal adversity leads to persistently higher internalizing problems than exposure to either adversity alone over more than two decades. These findings suggest that individuals exposed to perinatal adversity may be especially vulnerable to, and persistently affected by, childhood adversity, particularly in the form of depression and anxiety.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2020.03.138DOI Listing
June 2020

Extremely low birth weight influences the relationship between stress and telomere length in adulthood.

J Dev Orig Health Dis 2021 Apr 29;12(2):328-334. Epub 2020 May 29.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, ONL8S 4L8, Canada.

This study examined the link between two biological markers of stress vulnerability at 22-26 years of age and telomere length at 30-35 among extremely low birth weight (ELBW; <1000 g) survivors and normal birth weight (NBW; >2500 g) control participants. Sixteen ELBW and 22 NBW participants provided baseline afternoon salivary cortisol samples and resting frontal electroencephalogram (EEG) alpha asymmetry data at 22-26 years. Buccal cells were assayed for telomere length at 30-35 years. Analyses controlled for sex, postnatal steroid exposure, childhood socioeconomic status, time of cortisol sample collection, and body mass index at 22-26 years. Salivary cortisol and frontal asymmetry at age 22-26 independently predicted telomere length at age 30-35, such that relatively higher cortisol and greater relative right frontal asymmetry at rest predicted telomere shortening among NBW controls, but not among ELBW survivors. However, similar associations were not noted in ELBW survivors, suggesting that ELBW survivors may have different mechanisms of stress coping as a result of their early-life exposures. These findings offer preliminary evidence in support of the role of stress in the genesis of cellular senescence at least among those born at NBW, but that these links may differ in those born preterm.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S2040174420000409DOI Listing
April 2021

Revisiting the double-edged sword of self-regulation: Linking shyness, attentional shifting, and social behavior in preschoolers.

J Exp Child Psychol 2020 08 6;196:104842. Epub 2020 May 6.

Department of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behavior, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4K1, Canada.

Although children's self-regulation has been conceptualized positively, there may be individual differences in self-regulatory processes, some of which might not be adaptive depending on temperamental factors. We examined whether individual differences in children's self-regulation (i.e., inhibitory control and attentional shifting) moderated the association between shyness and social behavior in multiple social contexts (N = 156 children, 74 girls; M = 4.06 years, SD = 0.78). Only in children with high attentional shifting was shyness associated with lower levels of social support seeking during a frustration task and with lower levels of social engagement during a stranger approach task. These results were not attributable to differences in baseline physiological arousal indexed by respiratory sinus arrhythmia. These findings suggest that for some shy children, high levels of self-regulation may be less adaptive, leading to rigidity or over-control in some social contexts, possibly hindering social interaction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jecp.2020.104842DOI Listing
August 2020

Right frontal brain activity at rest in the early 20s predicts threat-related bias ten years later among extremely low birth weight survivors.

Neurosci Lett 2020 06 29;730:135012. Epub 2020 Apr 29.

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Exposure to early adversity is known to shape brain-behavior relations, which in turn can lead to hypersensitivity to threat and an increased risk of developing a range of psychopathologies. To date, much of the work in this area has considered exposure to negative post-natal events (e.g., maltreatment) in shaping these relations in humans. Here we examined the influence of prenatal adversity in the form of a suboptimal intra-uterine environment (i.e., being born at extremely low birth weight; [ELBW i.e., < 1000 g]). ELBW babies are the tiniest and most at-risk infants and are known to be at risk for internalizing problems (e.g., depression and anxiety) from childhood through early adulthood. However, we know relatively little about the mechanism(s) underlying this risk. Using the oldest known prospectively followed cohort of ELBW survivors, we examined associations among birth weight status, individual differences in frontal brain electrical activity (EEG) at rest (a marker of affective style) at age 22-26 years, and threat-related biases to angry faces (using the dot probe task) at 30-35 years of age. We found that among ELBW adults, those displaying greater relative right frontal EEG activity at rest exhibited greater vigilance to angry faces than those exhibiting greater relative left frontal EEG activity (n = 34, r = -0.40, p = .02). This pattern was not observed among normal birth weight (NBW) control participants (n = 47, r = .08, p > .05). As well, the relation between frontal EEG asymmetry and vigilance to angry faces was stronger for the ELBW group versus the NBW group (z = -2.21, p =  .03). These findings suggest that exposure to significant prenatal adversity may have long-term programming effects on biological and cognitive systems associated with emotion regulatory processes in the fourth decade of life. We speculate that these vulnerabilities may contribute to making some ELBW survivors susceptible to psychopathology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2020.135012DOI Listing
June 2020

"Health, wealth and achievements of former very premature infants in adult life".

Semin Fetal Neonatal Med 2020 06 6;25(3):101107. Epub 2020 Apr 6.

Neuroscience & Behaviour, McMaster University, Psychology Building, Room 405, 1280 Main St West, Hamilton, Ontario, L8S 4K1, Canada. Electronic address:

Very preterm survivors born in the early neonatal intensive care era are now in their middle adulthood. The literature from cohort studies and population-linked registries indicate that extreme prematurity is associated with lower educational attainment and income, higher need for social assistance, and lower rates of marriage/partnership and reproduction. In addition, with increasing age, many general and system-specific adverse health outcomes, such as psychiatric problems, hypertension, and cardio-metabolic disorders have emerged, resulting in high cumulative health care costs across the life-span. Yet, a significant majority of adults born preterm are leading productive lives and contributing to society. Although this information may not be directly applicable to survivors of modern neonatal intensive care, there is much to learn from these findings to inform and guide us into designing effective strategies to improve the health and well-being of future very premature infants. The longer-term outcome of more recent survivors remains to be determined.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.siny.2020.101107DOI Listing
June 2020

An examination of the reciprocal and concurrent relations between behavioral and cardiac indicators of acute pain in toddlerhood.

Pain 2020 07;161(7):1518-1531

University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.

The aim of this study was to examine the concurrent and predictive relations between healthy toddlers' pain behavior and cardiac indicators (ie, heart rate [HR] and respiratory sinus arrhythmia [RSA]) during routine vaccinations. Caregiver-infant dyads were part of a longitudinal cohort observed during their 12- and 18-month vaccinations. Behavioral and cardiac data were simultaneously collected for 1-minute preneedle and 3-minutes postneedle. Videotapes were coded for pain behaviors (FLACC; Merkel et al., 1997), and cardiac data were analyzed (HR, RSA) during sequential 30-second epochs. Four separate cross-lagged path models were estimated using data from the 12- (n = 147) and 18-month (n = 122) vaccinations. Across 12- and 18-month vaccinations, predictive within-measure relations were consistent for FLACC, HR, and RSA, reflecting good stability of these pain indicators. Behavioral indicators predicted subsequent HR and RSA within the immediate postneedle period. Both baseline behavior and HR/RSA predicted future pain scores. Concurrent residual relations between behavioral and cardiac indicators were inconsistent across time and indicators. Results suggest that behavioral and cardiac indicators reflect unique aspects of the nociceptive response. As such, multimodal assessment tools should be used and contextualized by child age, cardiac indicator, baseline behavior/physiology, and pain phase.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/j.pain.0000000000001840DOI Listing
July 2020