Try a new search

Format these results:

Searched for:



Total Results:


Emotional reactivity and regulation in infancy interact to predict executive functioning in early childhood

Ursache, Alexandra; Blair, Clancy; Stifter, Cynthia; Voegtline, Kristin
The relation of observed emotional reactivity and regulation in infancy to executive function in early childhood was examined in a prospective longitudinal sample of 1,292 children from predominantly low-income and rural communities. Children participated in a fear eliciting task at ages 7, 15, and 24 months and completed an executive function battery at age 48 months. Results indicated that the relation of child negative emotional reactivity at 15 months of age to executive functioning at 48 months of age was dependent on observed emotion regulation. High levels of executive function ability were observed among children who exhibited high levels of emotional reactivity and high levels of the regulation of this reactivity. In contrast, low levels of executive function ability were observed among children who exhibited high levels of reactivity but low levels of regulation. Among children exhibiting low levels of emotional reactivity, emotion regulation was unrelated to executive functioning. Moreover, emotionally reactive infants exhibiting high levels of emotion regulation were more likely to have primary caregivers who exhibited high levels of positive parenting behavior in a parent-child interaction task. Results provide support for a neurobiologically informed developmental model in which the regulation of emotional arousal is one mechanism whereby supportive environments are associated with higher levels of self-regulation ability for highly reactive infants. Findings are discussed with implications for differential susceptibility and biological sensitivity theories of child by context interaction.
PMID: 22563678
ISSN: 1939-0599
CID: 1829052

Neurocognitive development in socioeconomic context: Multiple mechanisms and implications for measuring socioeconomic status

Ursache, Alexandra; Noble, Kimberly G
Socioeconomic status (SES) has been linked to functioning across a variety of neurocognitive domains including language, memory, executive functioning, and social-emotional processing. We review these findings and discuss the ways in which socioeconomic context may shape neural processes such that these skills are supported by different neurobiological pathways in children from lower versus higher SES backgrounds. Moreover, we consider the mechanisms by which SES may be related to specific neurocognitive functions. Specifically, we focus on linguistic exposure and stress as two main pathways through which SES could influence neurocognitive processes and shape relations between the neural and behavioral levels of functioning. Finally, suggestions for conceptualizing and measuring SES in future work are offered.
PMID: 26681619
ISSN: 1540-5958
CID: 3143632

A quasi-experimental study of parent and child well-being in families of color in the context of COVID-19 related school closure

Ursache, Alexandra; Barajas-Gonzalez, R Gabriela; Adhikari, Samrachana; Kamboukos, Dimitra; Brotman, Laurie M; Dawson-McClure, Spring
Families of color living in historically disinvested neighborhoods face a multitude of health disparities which have been exacerbated by COVID-19 and the resulting strategies to mitigate its transmission. School closure, which occurred with little warning and few, if any, resources for preparation, disrupted multiple aspects of families' lives; these disruptions are anticipated to adversely impact mental health and well-being. The current study aims to advance understanding of the experiences of families of young children of color during the pandemic by utilizing a natural experiment design to test impact on child and parent mental health and sleep in the context of COVID-19 related school closure among families in historically disinvested neighborhoods. Data from this study come from an ongoing study of 281 families of color enrolled in 41 pre-kindergarten (pre-K) programs in neighborhoods across New York City (NYC). In NYC, school closure occurred on March 16, 2020, during a data collection period involving phone surveys with parents; the quasi-experimental design allows for comparison of the 198 families who had completed the survey prior to March 16, and the 83 families who completed the survey after March 16, using identical protocols and procedures. Results demonstrate poorer mental health among parents surveyed after school closure as compared to before school closure. No differences were found for parent sleep, child mental health, or child sleep. Implications of this work highlight the need for structural and systemic supports for families faced with compounding stressors as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and related school closure.
PMID: 35284616
ISSN: 2352-8273
CID: 5190912

Measuring children's emotion knowledge: Steps toward an anti-racist approach to early childhood assessments

Kamboukos, Dimitra; Ursache, Alexandra; Cheng, Sabrina; Rodriguez, Vanessa; Gelb, Gena; Barajas-Gonzalez, R. Gabriela; Dawson-McClure, Spring; Brotman, Laurie M
Emotion knowledge (EK) is a malleable set of skills that is central to social interactions and school success during early childhood. The current study describes an anti-racist approach to adapting an EK measure that assesses knowledge of facial expressions to be ecologically valid for young children of color attending pre-Kindergarten (pre-K) programs in a large urban school district. This approach involved (1) attending to race/ethnicity in selection of visual stimuli, (2) ensuring appropriate translation and language for administration, and (3) exploring the functioning of the measure within a racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse group of children. A total of 235 children (67.4% Latinx, 14.1% non-Latinx Black, 7.1% non-Latinx White, 7.8% Asian, 3.6% another racial/ethnicity) were assessed in English (74%) or Spanish (26%) during the fall of pre-K (mean age = 4.4). Both English and Spanish versions appear to have similar reliability, although accuracy levels were lower when administered in Spanish. No differences in mean accuracy scores were found across racial/ethnic groups or for boys versus girls. This study contributes to the growing literature necessary to advance anti-racist research in affective science. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)
ISSN: 2662-205x
CID: 5212102

Parental perceived immigration threat and children's mental health, self-regulation and executive functioning in pre-Kindergarten

Barajas-Gonzalez, R Gabriela; Ursache, Alexandra; Kamboukos, Dimitra; Huang, Keng-Yen; Dawson-McClure, Spring; Urcuyo, Anya; Huang, Tiffany June Jay; Brotman, Laurie Miller
Many children in immigrant households endure unique stressors shaped by national, state, and local immigration policies and enforcement activity in the United States. Qualitative studies find that during times of heightened immigration enforcement, children as young as 3 years of age show signs of behavioral distress related to national anti-immigrant sentiment and the possibility of losing a parent. Using multiple sources of data from 168 racially and ethnically diverse families of children in pre-Kindergarten, the present study examined variability in perceived levels of immigration enforcement threat by parental immigrant status and ethnicity. This study examined associations between immigration enforcement threat and child mental health, self-regulation, and executive functioning and whether parent immigrant status or child gender moderates these associations. We found substantial variability in perceived immigration threat, with immigrant parents and Latinx parents reporting significantly greater levels of immigration threat compared to nonimmigrant parents and non-Latinx parents. Immigration enforcement threat was associated with greater child separation anxiety and overanxious behaviors, and lower self-regulation among boys and girls and among children of immigrant and U.S.-born parents. In contrast to our hypothesis, immigration enforcement threat was associated with higher self-regulation according to independent assessor ratings. Educators and healthcare providers working with young children from immigrant and Latinx households should be aware of the disproportionate stress experienced by immigrant and Latinx families due to a xenophobic sociopolitical climate marked by heightened immigration enforcement threat and racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
PMID: 34968118
ISSN: 1939-0025
CID: 5097842

Sleep, Classroom Behavior, and Achievement Among Children of Color in Historically Disinvested Neighborhoods

Ursache, Alexandra; Robbins, Rebecca; Chung, Alicia; Dawson-McClure, Spring; Kamboukos, Dimitra; Calzada, Esther J; Jean-Louis, Girardin; Brotman, Laurie Miller
Children of color are more likely to have poor sleep health than White children, placing them at risk for behavioral problems in the classroom and lower academic performance. Few studies, however, have utilized standardized measures of both classroom behavior and achievement. This study examined whether children's sleep (parent and teacher report) in first grade concurrently related to independent observations of classroom behavior and longitudinally predicted achievement test scores in second grade in a sample of primarily Black (86%) children (n = 572; age = 6.8) living in historically disinvested neighborhoods. Higher teacher-reported child sleepiness was associated with lower adaptive behaviors and higher problem behaviors in the classroom, and predicted lower achievement. Parent-reported bedtime resistance and disordered breathing also predicted lower achievement.
PMID: 34041742
ISSN: 1467-8624
CID: 4940582

Measuring neighborhood deprivation for childhood health and development - scale implications in rural and urban context

Ursache, Alexandra; Regan, Seann; De Marco, Allison; Duncan, Dustin T
Neighborhood deprivation plays an important role in childhood health and development, but defining the appropriate neighborhood definition presents theoretical as well as practical challenges. Few studies have compared neighborhood definitions outside of highly urbanized settings. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate how various administrative and ego-centric neighborhood definitions may impact measured exposure to deprivation across the urban-rural continuum. We do so using the Family Life Project, a prospective longitudinal population-based sample of families living in North Carolina and Pennsylvania (USA), which also sets the stage for future investigations of neighborhood impacts on childhood health and development. To measure neighborhood deprivation, a standardized index of socioeconomic deprivation was calculated using data from the 2007-2011 American Community Survey. Families' residential addresses when children were 2 months of age (n=1036) were geocoded and overlaid onto a deprivation index layer created at the census block group level to construct multiple administrative and ego-centric neighborhood definitions. Friedman tests were used to compare distributions of neighborhood deprivation across these neighborhood definitions within urbanized areas, urban clusters, and rural areas. Results indicated differences in urbanized areas (Chisquare= 897.75, P<0.001) and urban clusters (Chi-square=687.83, P<0.001), but not in rural areas (Chi-square=13.52, P=0.332). Findings imply that in urban areas, choice of neighborhood definition impacts measured exposure to neighborhood deprivation. Although exposure to neighborhood deprivation appears to be less sensitive to neighborhood definition in rural areas, researchers should apply theoretical reasoning to choose appropriate definitions of children's neighborhood.
PMID: 33706499
ISSN: 1970-7096
CID: 4836022

Early Emotion Knowledge and Later Academic Achievement Among Children of Color in Historically Disinvested Neighborhoods

Ursache, Alexandra; Kiely Gouley, Kathleen; Dawson-McClure, Spring; Barajas-Gonzalez, R Gabriela; Calzada, Esther J; Goldfeld, Keith S; Brotman, Laurie M
This study examined longitudinal relations between emotion knowledge (EK) in pre-kindergarten (pre-K; Mage  = 4.8 years) and math and reading achievement 1 and 3 years later in a sample of 1,050 primarily Black children (over half from immigrant families) living in historically disinvested neighborhoods. Participants were part of a follow-up study of a cluster randomized controlled trial. Controlling for pre-academic skills, other social-emotional skills, sociodemographic characteristics, and school intervention status, higher EK at the end of pre-K predicted higher math and reading achievement test scores in kindergarten and second grade. Moderation analyses suggest that relations were attenuated among children from immigrant families. Findings suggest the importance of enriching pre-K programs for children of color with EK-promotive interventions and strategies.
PMID: 32865229
ISSN: 1467-8624
CID: 4578012


Chung, A.; Martinez, S.; Ursache, A.; Chang, S.; Huang, Y.; Jean-Louis, G.; Brotman, L.
ISSN: 0161-8105
CID: 4562362

Socioeconomic risk moderates the association between caregiver cortisol levels and infant cortisol reactivity to emotion induction at 24 months

Braren, Stephen H; Perry, Rosemarie E; Ursache, Alexandra; Blair, Clancy
Relations between maternal baseline cortisol and infant cortisol reactivity to an emotion induction procedure at child ages 7, 15, and 24 months were analyzed using data from the Family Life Project (N = 1,292). The emotion induction consisted of a series of standardized and validated tasks, including an arm restraint, toy removal, and mask presentation, intended to elicit responses of fear and frustration. Results revealed that at 7 and 15 months, maternal baseline cortisol was negatively related to child cortisol reactivity, such that children of mothers with lower cortisol exhibited steeper cortisol increases in response to the emotion induction. At 24 months, the association between mother and infant cortisol was moderated by socioeconomic risk, such that maternal baseline cortisol was associated with child cortisol reactivity only in dyads characterized by low socioeconomic risk. Furthermore, at 24 months, children of mothers with low baseline cortisol and low socioeconomic risk exhibited decreasing cortisol responses, whereas children of mothers with low baseline cortisol but high risk exhibited flat cortisol responses. Children in dyads characterized by high baseline maternal cortisol also exhibited flat cortisol responses regardless of socioeconomic risk. The role of caregiver physiology in the regulation of the child's stress response in the context of adversity is discussed.
PMID: 30820941
ISSN: 1098-2302
CID: 3698722