Self-regulation of negative affect at 5 and 10 months

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One hundred six infants participated in a longitudinal study of cognition–emotion integration exploring the effects of attentional control on regulation of negative affect across infancy. At both 5 and 10 months, attentional control was measured behaviorally (looking time to neutral stimulus), physiologically (cardiac reactivity), and with temperament-based parental ratings of orienting/regulation. Looking and cardiac measures were examined both before and after a mild stressor. At 5 months, post-distress negative affect was related only to distress-related increases in heart rate. At 10 months, however, behavioral, cardiac, and parent-report aspects of attentional control explained unique variance in post-distress negative affect. Attentional control measures at 5 months did not predict negative affect at 10 months. This pattern of results is discussed with respect to the development of frontally mediated regulatory mechanisms from infancy into early childhood. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Dev Psychobiol 54:215-221, 2012.

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