Summary: According to researchers, children who have emotionally invested parents are more likely to be successful.
Children with emotionally invested parents are more likely to be successful, a study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience shows.
Looking at 27 children aged between four and six, the study examined the quality of the emotional bond to their parents, and their cognitive control including: resisting temptation, their ability to remember things, and whether they are shy or withdrawn.
Maximizing children’s chances of success can seem daunting and an impossibly tall order. Future indicators of success seem driven, to a large extent, by factors beyond our immediate control: genes and the environment. This research, however, found a caring and emotionally attentive environment is liable to be a long-term game-changer.
The study involved a combination of questionnaires, behavioral tasks and electrophysiological measurements. The findings, according to Dr Schneider-Hassloff: “support developmental theories which propose that a high emotional quality in the mother-child interaction (attachment security) fosters the cognitive development of the child.”
The researchers looked at the quality of the emotional bond – referred to as emotional availability (EA) – between mothers and children. Second, the children’s executive functions were measured through a number of exercises.
Finally, the study measured the neural responses of children who were tasked to inhibit certain aspects of their behavior. This was achieved through EEG (Electrotroencephalography) by measuring small variations in voltage in certain key parts of the brain.
Dr Schneider-Hassloff noted: “this study investigated the association between emotional interaction quality and the electrophysiological correlates of executive functions in preschool children for the first time,” thereby shedding new light on the long-term importance of emotional nurturing.
Parents who understand this, by encouraging independence in their kids while remaining emotionally available, give their young ones a better chance at future success. Even in hardship they can create an emotional space that will have long-lasting and powerful consequences for the child’s future life-skills, the study asserts.
The researchers encourage further work into emotion-driven caretaker-child interactions, particularly for children at risk.
Source: Mark Wartenberg – Frontiers
Image Source: NeuroscienceNews.com image is adapted from the Frontiers press release.
Original Research: Full open access research for “Emotional Availability Modulates Electrophysiological Correlates of Executive Functions in Preschool Children” by Henriette Schneider-Hassloff, Annabel Zwönitzer, Anne K. Künster, Carmen Mayer, Ute Ziegenhain and Markus Kiefer in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Published online June 23 2016 doi:10.3389/fnhum.2016.00299
[cbtabs][cbtab title=”MLA”]Frontiers “Emotionally Invested Parents Give Children a Leg Up in Life.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 7 September 2016.
<https://neurosciencenews.com/parenting-emotional-investment-success-4980/>.[/cbtab][cbtab title=”APA”]Frontiers (2017, September 7). Emotionally Invested Parents Give Children a Leg Up in Life. NeuroscienceNew. Retrieved September 7, 2016 from https://neurosciencenews.com/parenting-emotional-investment-success-4980/[/cbtab][cbtab title=”Chicago”]Frontiers “Emotionally Invested Parents Give Children a Leg Up in Life.” https://neurosciencenews.com/parenting-emotional-investment-success-4980/ (accessed September 7, 2016).[/cbtab][/cbtabs]
Emotional Availability Modulates Electrophysiological Correlates of Executive Functions in Preschool Children
Executive functions (EFs) – a set of cognitive control abilities – mediate resilience to stress and are associated with academic achievement and health throughout life. They are crucially linked to prefrontal cortex function as well as to other cortical and subcortical brain functions, which are maturing throughout childhood at different rates. Recent behavioral research suggested that children’s EFs were related to parenting quality and child attachment security, but the neural correlates of these associations are unknown. With this study we tested in 4- to 6-year-old healthy children (N = 27) how emotional availability (EA) of the mother-child-interaction was associated with behavioral and electrophysiological correlates of response inhibition (a core EF) in a Go/Nogo task, using event-related potential recordings (ERPs), and with behavioral performance in a Delay of Gratification (DoG) and a Head-Toes-Knees-Shoulders task (HTKS). Our data showed that the Go/Nogo task modulated children’s ERP components resembling adult electrophysiological indices of response inhibition – the N2 and P3/LPC ERPs-, but the children’s N2 and P3/LPC ERPs showed longer latencies. Higher maternal autonomy-fostering behavior and greater child responsiveness were significantly associated with smaller children’s N2 Go/Nogo effects at fronto-central and parietal sites and with greater Go/Nogo effects in the N2 time window at occipital sites, over and above children’s age and intelligence. Additionally, greater maternal sensitivity and a higher dyadic EA quality of the mother-child-interaction went along with greater occipital Go/Nogo effects in the N2 time window, but this effect clearly diminished when we controlled for children’s age and intelligence. Higher maternal autonomy-support was also positively associated with better HTKS performance, and higher dyadic EA quality went along with higher HTKS and DoG scores. However, no significant associations were found between EA variables and the behavioral response inhibition measures of the Go/Nogo task. Our results suggest that parenting qualities modulate the functionality of neural circuits involved in response inhibition, an important component of EFs. This finding, thus, indicates that parent–child interactions shape the neurocognitive development underlying EFs.
“Emotional Availability Modulates Electrophysiological Correlates of Executive Functions in Preschool Children” by Henriette Schneider-Hassloff, Annabel Zwönitzer, Anne K. Künster, Carmen Mayer, Ute Ziegenhain and Markus Kiefer in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. Published online June 23 2016 doi:10.3389/fnhum.2016.00299