Trajectories of frontal brain activity and socio-emotional development in children
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Asymmetric frontal brain activity is thought to reflect individual differences in approach- and avoidance-oriented motivation and emotional experience. Using a prospective longitudinal design, the authors investigated whether trajectories of frontal electroencephalogram (EEG) asymmetry in children (Mage = 6.39 years at enrollment) predicted subjective, behavioral, and autonomic indices of socioemotional processes. Resting frontal EEG activity was measured across four separate repeated assessments spanning approximately 2 years. Children's EEG asymmetry across assessments was best characterized by two trajectories: a stable right frontal asymmetry class (48.65%), and a stable left frontal asymmetry class (51.35%). At visit 4, children in the stable right frontal asymmetry displayed more avoidance-related tendencies and children in the stable left frontal asymmetry class exhibited more approach-related tendencies across social, emotional, and autonomic measures. These findings suggest that developmental patterns of resting frontal brain activity across the early school years may underlie approach- and avoidance-related motivation and predict socio-emotional processes in some children.
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