Do temperamentally shy children process emotion differently than nonshy children? Behavioral, psychophysiological, and gender differences in reticent preschoolers
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We examined regional brain electrical activity (EEG), heart rate, and subjective responses at rest and during the presentation of videoclips designed to elicit a range of emotions (e.g., sadness, anger, happiness, fear) among a sample of healthy 4-year-old children selected for temperamental shyness. We found that shy children exhibited significantly greater relative right central EEG activation at rest and during the presentation of the fear-eliciting videoclip than nonshy children. Shy females displayed greater relative right mid-frontal EEG activation during the sad, happy, and fear videoclips than shy males who displayed greater relative left mid-frontal EEG activation. These results (1) suggest that recent frontal EEG activation/emotion models might be gender-specific and (2) appear to provide the first empirical evidence for recent theoretical notions linking the origins and maintenance of temperamental shyness in children to difficulty in regulating fear responses.
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