Early behavioral inhibition and increased error monitoring predict later social phobia symptoms in childhood

Ayelet Lahat, Connie Lamm, Andrea Chronis-Tuscano, Daniel S. Pine, Heather A. Henderson, Nathan A. Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Objective Behavioral inhibition (BI) is an early childhood temperament characterized by fearful responses to novelty and avoidance of social interactions. During adolescence, a subset of children with stable childhood BI develop social anxiety disorder and concurrently exhibit increased error monitoring. The current study examines whether increased error monitoring in 7-year-old, behaviorally inhibited children prospectively predicts risk for symptoms of social phobia at age 9 years. Method A total of 291 children were characterized on BI at 24 and 36 months of age. Children were seen again at 7 years of age, when they performed a Flanker task, and event-related potential (ERP) indices of response monitoring were generated. At age 9, self- and maternal-report of social phobia symptoms were obtained. Results Children high in BI, compared to those low in BI, displayed increased error monitoring at age 7, as indexed by larger (i.e., more negative) error-related negativity (ERN) amplitudes. In addition, early BI was related to later childhood social phobia symptoms at age 9 among children with a large difference in amplitude between ERN and correct-response negativity (CRN) at age 7. Conclusions Heightened error monitoring predicts risk for later social phobia symptoms in children with high BI. Research assessing response monitoring in children with BI may refine our understanding of the mechanisms underlying risk for later anxiety disorders and inform prevention efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-455
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • anxiety
  • behavioral inhibition
  • error monitoring
  • error-related negativity (ERN)
  • longitudinal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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