Physiological functioning moderates infants’ sensory sensitivity in higher conflict families

Micah A. Mammen, Alex Busuito, Ginger A. Moore, Kelsey M. Quigley, Kim Kopenhaver Doheny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Children exposed to parent conflict may be at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders by becoming sensitized to conflict cues in their environments. This study explored possible precursors to negative child outcomes associated with parent conflict by examining the relation between parent conflict and infants’ (N = 36; 23–42 weeks; 44% female) behavioral sensitivity to general sensory stimuli (e.g., loud noises, physical touch). To determine whether infants’ characteristic autonomic arousal and regulation moderated this association, infant baseline skin conductance (SC) and respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) were measured. Parents reported levels of parent conflict, and mothers reported infants’ behavioral sensory sensitivity. The association between parent conflict and lower threshold for sensory sensitivity was strongest for infants with higher physiological arousal (higher SC) and lesser capacity for physiological regulation (lower RSA). Children may become more sensitive to environmental stimuli as a function of parent conflict during infancy, though this appears to depend on characteristic physiological arousal and regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)628-638
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental psychobiology
Volume59
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017

Fingerprint

Family Conflict
Arousal
Sensory Thresholds
Skin
Touch
Conflict (Psychology)
Cues
Noise
Parents
Mothers

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

Cite this

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abstract = "Children exposed to parent conflict may be at risk for emotional and behavioral disorders by becoming sensitized to conflict cues in their environments. This study explored possible precursors to negative child outcomes associated with parent conflict by examining the relation between parent conflict and infants’ (N = 36; 23–42 weeks; 44{\%} female) behavioral sensitivity to general sensory stimuli (e.g., loud noises, physical touch). To determine whether infants’ characteristic autonomic arousal and regulation moderated this association, infant baseline skin conductance (SC) and respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) were measured. Parents reported levels of parent conflict, and mothers reported infants’ behavioral sensory sensitivity. The association between parent conflict and lower threshold for sensory sensitivity was strongest for infants with higher physiological arousal (higher SC) and lesser capacity for physiological regulation (lower RSA). Children may become more sensitive to environmental stimuli as a function of parent conflict during infancy, though this appears to depend on characteristic physiological arousal and regulation.",
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Physiological functioning moderates infants’ sensory sensitivity in higher conflict families. / Mammen, Micah A.; Busuito, Alex; Moore, Ginger A.; Quigley, Kelsey M.; Doheny, Kim Kopenhaver.

In: Developmental psychobiology, Vol. 59, No. 5, 01.07.2017, p. 628-638.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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