INFANT EMOTION REGULATION PATTERNS AND ELECTROENCEPHALOGRAPHY (EEG) ASYMMETRY IN RESPONSE TO STILL FACE PROCEDURE
Potapova, Natalia V.
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Early emotion regulation is critical for later childhood and adult emotional wellbeing. Sustained patterns of early emotion regulation have been commonly operationalized as the regulation/orienting factor of infant temperament (Gartstein & Rothbart, 2003). In this study, infant regulation was measured via mother-report and electroencephalography (EEG) frontal asymmetry, utilized to provide a marker of emotion regulation during the Still Face task, a procedure (Tronick, et al., 1978) that induces infant emotional reactivity by caregiver’s flat, emotionless facial expression and absence of verbal and physical contact. EEG frontal asymmetry represents individual dispositional differences, with greater right hemisphere activation linked to withdrawal behaviors/emotions and greater left asymmetry associated with approach and regulation. It was hypothesized that infants scoring higher on the regulation/orienting factor, as rated by their mothers, would display greater left frontal activity, while infants scoring lower would display greater right frontal asymmetry in response to Still Face, with baseline resting asymmetry and other temperament factors considered as covariates. Forty-five families completed the laboratory procedure and the Infant Behavior Questionnaire-Revised (IBQ-R; Gartstein & Rothbart, 2003), a parent-report questionnaire of infant temperament. EEG readings were collected during the baseline and Still Face procedure and then processed and analyzed according to standard procedures (Bell & Cuevas, 2012). Frontal asymmetry scores were computed by subtracting the natural log (ln) power at left frontal (F3) from ln power at right frontal (F4) to assess the differences in the 6-9 Hz alpha band. A negative frontal EEG asymmetry score reflected greater right frontal activation. Correlational analyses revealed that Activity and Approach scales were significantly and positively associated with the Still Face Asymmetry scores. However, no other significant correlations were found. Multiple regression analyses examining the effect of regulation/orienting factor on Still Face Asymmetry scores, controlling for baseline asymmetry and other temperament factors, were also non-significant. The study’s strengths and limitations are reviewed and future directions are proposed for conducting additional analyses within a context of a larger, more diverse and “at-risk” sample exploring the relationship between emotion regulation and asymmetry during the post-Still Face play task.