Cognitive control moderates early childhood temperament in predicting social behavior in 7-year-old children: An ERP study

Connie Lamm, Olga L. Walker, Kathryn A. Degnan, Heather A. Henderson, Daniel S. Pine, Jennifer Martin Mcdermott, Nathan A. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Behavioral inhibition (BI) is a temperament associated with heightened vigilance and fear of novelty in early childhood, and social reticence and increased risk for anxiety problems later in development. However, not all behaviorally inhibited children develop signs of anxiety. One mechanism that might contribute to the variability in developmental trajectories is the recruitment of cognitive-control resources. The current study measured N2 activation, an ERP (event-related potential) associated with cognitive control, and modeled source-space activation (LORETA; Low Resolution Brain Electromagnetic Tomography) at 7 years of age while children performed a go/no-go task. Activation was estimated for the entire cortex and then exported for four regions of interest: ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPFC), ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC), dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dorsal ACC), and dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). BI was measured in early childhood (ages 2 and 3 years). Anxiety problems and social reticence were measured at 7 years of age to ascertain stability of temperamental style. Results revealed that BI was associated with increased performance accuracy, longer reaction times, greater (more negative) N2 activation, and higher estimated dorsal ACC and DLPFC activation. Furthermore, early BI was only associated with social reticence at age 7 at higher (more negative) levels of N2 activation or higher estimated dorsal ACC or DLPFC activation. Results are discussed in the context of overcontrolled behavior contributing to social reticence and signs of anxiety in middle childhood.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDevelopmental Science
StateAccepted/In press - Apr 30 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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