Title

Physiological Ups & Downs: Shy Toddlers Self-regulate Cardiac Activity and Behavior Response Under a Challenging Task

Lead Author Major

Stephanie Ascencio

Lead Author Status

Senior

Format

Poster Presentation

Faculty Mentor Name

Jessica Grady

Faculty Mentor Department

Psychology

Abstract/Artist Statement

Shy children often show fear and wariness under novel situations and may need help self-regulating their behavioral response. Behavioral self-regulation is associated with physiological self-regulation. Changes in heart activity with respiration are influenced by parasympathetic pathways, the branch of the autonomic nervous system that supports calm engagement with the environment. This process of change in respiration with cardiac activity is referred to as respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA). Change in RSA as we encounter environmental challenges is referred to as RSA reactivity. The present study observes RSA levels and behaviors during a task designed to challenge self-regulation to identify which levels of RSA reactivity coincide with appropriate self-regulation.

Thirty-two toddlers (Mage = 23.38 months) were observed during two laboratory episodes. One episode was designed to measure self-regulation (i.e snack delay) and the other measured cardiac activity while watching a neutral video (i.e. Spot the dog). RSA baseline levels were coded during the Spot the dog task. Behaviors (i.e. latency, waiting turn, fidget behavior, duration) and RSA reactivity were coded during snack delay task. RSA differences from the two episodes resulted in positive values (RSA augmentation) or negative values (RSA suppression).

Results showed that more toddlers displayed RSA suppression (n = 27) than RSA augmentation (n = 5). However, RSA augmentation and RSA suppression values were not significantly correlated to the behavioral measures during snack delay (latency, r = .16; waiting turn, r = .06; fidget behavior, r = .01; duration, r = .15). Past research found a significant correlation between physiological and behavioral self-regulation using a general population of toddlers. Differences in associations between RSA reactivity levels and behavioral measures from past work and present study will be discussed.

Location

Virtual

Start Date

25-4-2020 1:00 PM

End Date

25-4-2020 3:00 PM

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Apr 25th, 1:00 PM Apr 25th, 3:00 PM

Physiological Ups & Downs: Shy Toddlers Self-regulate Cardiac Activity and Behavior Response Under a Challenging Task

Virtual

Shy children often show fear and wariness under novel situations and may need help self-regulating their behavioral response. Behavioral self-regulation is associated with physiological self-regulation. Changes in heart activity with respiration are influenced by parasympathetic pathways, the branch of the autonomic nervous system that supports calm engagement with the environment. This process of change in respiration with cardiac activity is referred to as respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA). Change in RSA as we encounter environmental challenges is referred to as RSA reactivity. The present study observes RSA levels and behaviors during a task designed to challenge self-regulation to identify which levels of RSA reactivity coincide with appropriate self-regulation.

Thirty-two toddlers (Mage = 23.38 months) were observed during two laboratory episodes. One episode was designed to measure self-regulation (i.e snack delay) and the other measured cardiac activity while watching a neutral video (i.e. Spot the dog). RSA baseline levels were coded during the Spot the dog task. Behaviors (i.e. latency, waiting turn, fidget behavior, duration) and RSA reactivity were coded during snack delay task. RSA differences from the two episodes resulted in positive values (RSA augmentation) or negative values (RSA suppression).

Results showed that more toddlers displayed RSA suppression (n = 27) than RSA augmentation (n = 5). However, RSA augmentation and RSA suppression values were not significantly correlated to the behavioral measures during snack delay (latency, r = .16; waiting turn, r = .06; fidget behavior, r = .01; duration, r = .15). Past research found a significant correlation between physiological and behavioral self-regulation using a general population of toddlers. Differences in associations between RSA reactivity levels and behavioral measures from past work and present study will be discussed.