Adult Processing of Child Emotional Expressions: A Meta-Analysis of ERP Studies

Sierra Kuzava, Allison Frost, Laura Perrone, Erin Kang, Oliver Lindhiem, Kristin Bernard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Numerous event-related potential (ERP) studies have examined adults' neural responses to child emotional expressions to understand the neurobiological mechanisms contributing to caregiving. It is unclear, however, whether one emotion evokes an enhanced response across components, and whether this pattern differs based on parent status or other sample characteristics. This meta-analysis quantified adult responses to child emotional expressions at the N170 and the late positive potential (LPP) components. Cohen's d reflected the difference between crying and neutral (CN), crying and laughing (CL), and laughing and neutral (LN) N170 and LPP amplitudes. Crying expressions elicited slightly enhanced N170 and LPP amplitudes relative to neutral and laughing expressions (N170 CN: k = 24, d = -0.09, p < 0.001; N170 CL: k = 30, d = -0.07, p = .004; LPP CN: k = 20, d = 0.12, p = .027; LPP CL: k = 27, d = 0.10, p < .001), and laughing expressions elicited slightly enhanced N170 amplitudes relative to neutral expressions (N170 LN: k = 21, d =-0.05, p = .02). Parental status, child age, risk factors for insensitive caregiving, and measurement characteristics moderated some effect sizes, with reference electrode emerging as the most consistent moderator. Results shed light on the typical pattern of neural response to child emotions and characteristics that may moderate this response.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Child
  • Emotion
  • ERP
  • Infant
  • Parent

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