Infant temperament and family socio-economic status in relation to the emergence of attention regulation
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Cognitive developmentchildhood povertyvisual attentionSelf-regulationStress
Conejero, Á., & Rueda, M. R. (2018). Infant temperament and family socio-economic status in relation to the emergence of attention regulation. Scientific Reports, 8(1)
SponsorshipSpanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO; Ref.: PSI2014-55833-P and PSI2017-82670-P); Ministry of Education and Science, Spain (Ref: AP2010-3525)
Attention regulation refers to the ability to control attention according to goals and intentions. Disengagement of attention is one of the first mechanisms of attention regulation that emerges in infancy, involving attention control and flexibility. Disengaging attention from emotional stimuli (such as threat-related cues) is of particular interest given its implication for self- regulation. A second mechanism of attention control is the ability to flexibly switch attention according to changing conditions. In our study, we investigated 9 to 12-month-olds' disengagement and flexibility of attention, and examined the contribution of both temperament and socioeconomic status (SES) to individual differences in the emergence of these attention regulation skills at the end of the first year of life. Our results show that both difficulty to disengage from fearful faces and poorer attention flexibility were associated with higher levels of temperamental Negative Affectivity (NA). Additionally, attention flexibility moderated the effect of NA on disengagement from fearful faces. Infants with higher NA and poorer attention flexibility showed the greatest difficulty to disengage. Low SES was also associated with poorer attention flexibility, association that was mediated by infants' NA. These results suggest that attention flexibility together with temperament and environmental factors are key to understand individual differences in attention regulation from threat-related stimuli as early as from infancy. Our findings also stress the importance of interactions between environmental and constitutional factors for understanding individual differences in the emergence of attention regulation.