This study examined parasympathetic physiology as a moderator of the effects of early adversity (i.e., child abuse and neglect) on children's inhibitory control. Children's respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) was assessed during a resting baseline, two joint challenge tasks with mother, and an individual frustration task. RSA assessed during each of the joint parent-child challenge tasks moderated the effects of child maltreatment (CM) status on children's independently-assessed inhibitory control. No moderation effect was found for RSA assessed at baseline or in the child-alone challenge task. Among CM-exposed children, lower RSA levels during the joint task predicted the lowest inhibitory control, whereas higher joint task RSA was linked to higher inhibitory control scores that were indistinguishable from those of non-CM children. Results are discussed with regard to the importance of considering context specificity (i.e., individual and caregiver contexts) in how biomarkers inform our understanding of individual differences in vulnerability among at-risk children.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Developmental Neuroscience
- Developmental Biology
- Behavioral Neuroscience