Coupling between prefrontal brain activity and respiratory sinus arrhythmia in infants and adults

Trinh Nguyen, Stefanie Hoehl, Bennett I. Bertenthal, Drew H. Abney

Self-regulation is an essential aspect of healthy child development. Even though infants are dependent on their caregivers for co-regulation during the first years, they begin to gain early regulatory abilities through social interactions as well as their own cognitive development. These early regulatory abilities continue to increase with the maturation of both the prefrontal cortex and the vagal system. Importantly, theoretical accounts have suggested that the prefrontal cortex and the vagal system are linked through forward and backward feedback loops via the limbic system. Decreased coupling within this link is suggested to be associated with psychopathology.

The primary goal of this study is to examine whether intrapersonal coupling of prefrontal brain activity and respiratory sinus arrythmia is evident in infancy. Using the simultaneous assessment of functional near-infrared spectroscopy and electrocardiography, we will use Cross-Recurrence Quantification Analysis to assess the coupling of prefrontal brain activity and respiratory sinus arrhythmia in 69 4–6-month-old infants and their mothers during rest.

Understanding the developmental emergence of the neurobiological correlates of self- regulation will allow us to help identify neurodevelopmental risk factors.

Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology
External organisation(s)
University of Georgia, Indiana University Bloomington
Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Publication date
Peer reviewed
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
501014 Neuropsychology, 501005 Developmental psychology
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Cognitive Neuroscience
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