The ability to use cognitive emotion regulation strategies such as reappraisal may be a core component of emotional competence across development, but due to methodological challenges in measuring such strategies, they are rarely studied in young children. One neurophysiological measure, the late positive potential (LPP), has been examined in response to reappraisal as a potential neurosignature for emotion regulatory capacity in adults. The association between the LPP and emotion regulatory capacity in children is unknown. The present study examined whether the LPP during reappraisal could predict greater observed adaptive emotion regulation strategy use in school-aged children over a two-year period. Thirty-two 5- to 7-year-olds participated in two identical lab visits spaced two years apart. EEG was continuously recorded during a computerized reappraisal task in which children viewed unpleasant images paired with either reappraisal or negative stories. Next they completed a disappointing and a frustrating task during which emotion regulation strategies were observed. As predicted, children who showed reappraisal-induced reductions in the LPP at the first assessment used significantly more adaptive ER strategies concurrently and two years later. These findings provide observation-based evidence that the LPP may be a viable neurosignature for emotion regulatory capacity in children.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience