06.12.2014 - Behavioral reactivity to emotion challenge associated with cortisol reactivity and regulation

Author: Ursache, A, et al. (2013) Developmental Psychobiology

This study examined relations of behavioral reactivity and regulation to emotional arousal in the context of fear and frustration to the cortisol response. They tested children at 7, 15, and 24 months of age in a low income, rural population based sample of 1,292 families followed longitudinally from birth. At each age, children participated in fear and frustration inducing tasks, and cortisol samples were taken at three time points in order to capture both increases (reactivity) and subsequent decreases (regulation) in the cortisol response. Results indicate that while behavioral reactivity is predictive of whether or not infants and young children will exhibit a cortisol response to emotionally arousing tasks, behavioral and cortisol reactivity are not necessarily coupled.