Category: Parenting / Families


The Roles of Parent Emotional Expression and Child Psychophysiology in ADHD

Sunday, November 19
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Cobalt 502, Level 5, Cobalt Level

Keywords: ADHD - Child / Adolescent | Parenting | Families
Presentation Type: Symposium

Introduction: Recent theory and empirical evidence suggests that ADHD is associated with dysregulation of affect-based neurobiological systems, which parent emotional scaffolding likely influence. ADHD is heterogeneous and its symptoms exhibit developmental change over time. To examine both child and parent-based affective sources of individual variability in ADHD, as well as ADHD and comorbid symptom trajectories, this study examined parental emotional expression during a parent-child interaction task as an individual and interactive (with psychophysiological indexes of emotion reactivity and regulation) predictor of a) ADHD behavioral heterogeneity and b) ADHD and comorbid symptom developmental course.

Methods: 100 parent-child dyads (50 control, 50 ADHD; age 7-11 years at Time 1) completed a parent-child challenge interaction task coded for parent emotional words in both negative and positive valence domains. Child cardiac physiology was recorded throughout. Parasympathetic-based respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) was interpreted as emotional regulation and sympathetic-based pre-ejection period (PEP) was interpreted as signaling emotional reactivity. Inattentive, hyperactive/impulsive, and oppositional-defiant symptom stability was evaluated at a one-year follow-up.

Results: Results reveal that blunted task-based RSA withdrawal (low regulation) was associated with ADHD and ODD (both p

Discussion: This study suggests that emotional characteristics of the child’s family and neurobiologically based emotion dysregulation and reactivity may be powerful predictors of heterogeneity in developmental course of ADHD. Implications for intervention will be discussed. 

Erica Musser

Associate Professor
Florida International University


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The Roles of Parent Emotional Expression and Child Psychophysiology in ADHD

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