Multimodal examination of emotion processing systems associated with negative affectivity across early childhood

M. Catalina Camacho, Elizabeth M. Williams, Keya Ding, Susan B. Perlman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High Temperamental Negative Affectivity in early childhood has been found to predict later emotion dysregulation. While much work has been conducted to separately probe bio-behavioral systems associated with Negative Affectivity, very little work has examined the relations among multiple systems across age. In this study, we use multi-modal methods to index neurobiological systems associated with Negative Affectivity in 53 4-7-year-old children. Prefrontal activation during emotion regulation was measured using functional near-infrared spectroscopy over the lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC) while children played a game designed to elicit frustration in Social (Happy and Angry faces) and Nonsocial contexts. Gaze behaviors while free-viewing Happy and Angry faces were also measured. Finally, Negative Affectivity was indexed using a score composite based on factor analysis of parent-reported temperament. Using mixed-effects linear models, we found an age-dependent association between Negative Affectivity and both PFC activation during frustration and fixation duration on the mouth area of Happy faces, such that older children high in Negative Affectivity spent less time looking at the mouths of Happy faces and had lower PFC activation in response to frustration (ps<0.034). These results provide further insight to how Negative Affectivity may be associated with changes in affective neurobiological systems across early childhood.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100917
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • Early childhood
  • Emotion regulation
  • Eye tracking
  • Functional near-infrared spectroscopy
  • Temperament


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