Project: Research project

Project Details


THIS IS AN END DATE CHANGE ONLY! THIS PROJECT NEEDS TO BE TERMINATED EARLY BUT THE FINAL REPORT CANNOT BE SUBMITTED UNTIL THE END DATE CHANGE HAS BEEN APPROVED!The focus of my program of research is to understand the factors leading to well-regulated stress responses in young children. Stress responses of interest are the functioning of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) system and its primary hormonal product, cortisol, autonomic nervous system function, including measures of both sympathetic (heart rate, blood pressure, skin conductance) and parasympathetic (vagal tone) function, and emotion regulation and dysregulation. The development of individual differences in these responses is critical to the health and strength of current and future families. Families in Michigan have been hit particularly hard by economic stress in the context of funding cuts to public services, and this extra pressure makes it more difficult for parents to provide the support that allows children to develop healthy stress responses. Researchers know that the inability to demonstrate healthy stress responses predicts both mental and physical illness. Therefore, it is critical to the well-being of Michigan families that we understand how children develop different responses to stress. This research will be conducted by studying families in the community in their homes and at the Department of Family and Child Ecology at MSU. Mothers and their children will be asked to participate in normal caregiving activities and in mild psychosocial challenges. These episodes allow us to study the role of mothers, genes, and other factors that determine positive strategies for coping with stress. Knowledge of these processes should allow us to target supports for parents with young children, and may be translated and disseminated through the MAES and MSUE social service providers throughout the state. These goals are consistent with the mission of the Michigan Agriculture and Experiment Station's investment in family and community vitality.

Effective start/end date10/1/0212/31/13


  • National Science Foundation: $417,313.00


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