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Frontolimbic activity in a frustrating task: Covariation between patterns of coping and individual differences in externalizing and internalizing symptoms

  • Ida Moadab (a1), Tara Gilbert (a1) (a2), Thomas J. Dishion (a1) and Don M. Tucker (a1) (a2)
Abstract
Abstract

Many problem behaviors in youth have been attributed to maladaptive self-regulation in response to frustration. Frontolimbic networks that promote flexible as well as over- and undercontrolled regulation could provide evidence linking cortical mechanisms of self-regulation to the development of internalizing or externalizing symptomology. Specifically, ineffective dorsally mediated inhibitory control may be associated with rule-breaking and substance use behaviors, whereas overengagement of ventral limbic systems responsible for self-monitoring of errors may increase risk of developing anxious and depressed symptomology. In this study, a sample of 9- to 13-year-old children were presented with an emotional go/no-go task. Event-related potentials were used to identify differences in cortical mechanisms related to inhibitory control (indexed with the stimulus-locked medial frontal negativity) and self-monitoring (indexed with the error-related negativity). These measurements were then related to externalizing and internalizing behaviors. As predicted, externalizing problems were associated with smaller medial frontal negativity amplitudes, which indicate undercontrolled self-regulation and poor dorsal mediation of actions. Internalizing symptoms were related to larger error-related negativity amplitudes, demonstrating overregulation and overengagement of ventral limbic systems. These findings suggest that the use of event-related potential methodology with paradigms that elicit cognition–emotion can provide insight into the neural mechanisms of regulatory deficits that result in problem behaviors in youth.

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Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Ida Moadab, Department of Psychology, 1227, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403; E-mail: imoadab@uoregon.edu.
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Development and Psychopathology
  • ISSN: 0954-5794
  • EISSN: 1469-2198
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