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Early Neural and Environmental Predictors of Later Emotion Dysregulation in Children with and without ADHD Symptoms

Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common childhood neurodevelopmental disorders and is characterized by excessive inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity. There is evidence that many children with ADHD experience emotion dysregulation, but little is known about the mechanisms by which children with ADHD develop difficulties with emotion dysregulation. The goal of the present study is to identify early neural and environmental predictors of emotion dysregulation and determine whether these factors interact in contributing to later emotion dysregulation. In this study, children (aged 4-7) with ADHD symptoms and typically developing children participated. Measures of emotion socialization and neural measures of emotion reactivity and regulation were completed at the first visit. Follow-up was conducted 18 months later, and emotion dysregulation was assessed using parent report, child self-report, and observed affect during a frustration task. Supportive and unsupportive emotion socialization, distress reactions, and neural markers of reactivity and regulation (P1, N2, and P3) predicted later emotion dysregulation. Additionally, emotion socialization and neural markers during reactivity interacted in predicting later emotion dysregulation, such that neural markers predicted later emotion dysregulation in the context of low but not high quality emotion socialization. This study has implications for understanding mechanisms by which emotion dysregulation develops in children with ADHD symptoms and will aid in the development of targeted interventions for children with ADHD.