Parent-child coregulation of parasympathetic processes varies by social context and risk for psychopathology

Erika Sell Lunkenheimer, Stacey S. Tiberio, Amanda M. Skoranski, Kristin Buss, Pamela Marie Cole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The parasympathetic nervous system supports social interaction and varies in relation to psychopathology. However, we know little about parasympathetic processes from a dyadic framework, nor in early childhood when parent-child social interactions become more complex and child psychopathology first emerges. We hypothesized that higher risk for psychopathology (maternal psychopathology symptoms and child problem behavior) would be related to weaker concordance of respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) between mothers and children (M = 3½ years old; N = 47) and that these relations could vary by social contextual demands, comparing unstructured free play, semistructured cleanup, and structured teaching tasks. Multilevel coupled autoregressive models of RSA during parent-child interactions showed overall dynamic, positive concordance in mother-child RSA over time, but this concordance was weaker during the more structured teaching task. In contrast, higher maternal psychological aggression and child externalizing and internalizing problems were associated with weaker dyadic RSA concordance, which was weakest during unstructured free play. Higher maternal depressive symptoms were related to disrupted individual mother and child RSA but not to RSA concordance. Thus, risk for psychopathology was generally related to weaker dyadic mother-child RSA concordance in contexts with less complex structure or demands (free play, cleanup), as compared to the structured teaching task that showed weaker RSA concordance for all dyads. Implications for the meaning and utility of the construct of parent-child physiological coregulation are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12985
JournalPsychophysiology
Volume55
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

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Psychopathology
Mothers
Teaching
Interpersonal Relations
Parasympathetic Nervous System
Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia
Child Behavior
Aggression
Depression
Psychology

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Physiology (medical)

Cite this

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Parent-child coregulation of parasympathetic processes varies by social context and risk for psychopathology. / Lunkenheimer, Erika Sell; Tiberio, Stacey S.; Skoranski, Amanda M.; Buss, Kristin; Cole, Pamela Marie.

In: Psychophysiology, Vol. 55, No. 2, e12985, 01.02.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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