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The role of frontal activation in the regulation and dysregulation of social behavior during the preschool years

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 March 2009

Nathan A. Fox*
Affiliation:
University of Maryland, College Park
Louis A. Schmidt
Affiliation:
University of Maryland, College Park
Susan D. Calkins
Affiliation:
University of North Carolina, Greensboro
Kenneth H. Rubin
Affiliation:
University of Waterloo
Robert J. Coplan
Affiliation:
University of Waterloo
*
Nathan A. Fox, Institute for Child Study, Benjamin Building, Room 3304, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, E-mail: NF4@MAIL.UMD.EDU.

Abstract

We examined whether the interaction of resting frontal electroencephalogram (EEG) asymmetry and social behavior during peer play was related to the occurrence of maladaptive behavior in preschoolers. Two independent cohorts of children were observed interacting in same-age and -gender play quartets at 4 years of age. Each child was also seen individually for a psychophysiology session during which time measures of EEG activity were recorded. We found that highly sociable children who exhibited greater relative right frontal EEG asymmetry were more likely to exhibit externalizing problems than sociable children who exhibited greater relative left frontal EEG asymmetry. We also found that shy children who exhibited greater relative right frontal EEG asymmetry were more likely to exhibit internalizing problems than shy children who exhibited left frontal EEG asymmetry. These findings suggest that the pattern of frontal EEG asymmetry in combination with social behavioral style is a significant predictor of maladaptive behavior problems during the preschool period.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1996

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