An event-related potential study of the processing of affective facial expressions in young children who experienced maltreatment during the first year of life

Dante Cicchetti, W. John Curtis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

83 Scopus citations

Abstract

This investigation examined the effects of maltreatment during the first year of life on the neural correlates of processing facial expressions of emotion at 30 months of age. Event-related potentials (ERPs) in response to children passively viewing standardized pictures of female models posing angry, happy, and neutral facial expressions were examined. Four ERP waveform components were derived: early negative (N150), early positive (P260), negative central (Nc), and positive slow wave (PSW). Differences in these waveforms between a group of 35 maltreated and 24 nonmaltreated children were reported. The groups did not differ on the early perceptual negative component (N150), whereas the maltreated children had greater P260 amplitude at frontal leads compared to the nonmaltreated children in response to viewing angry facial expressions. For the Nc component, the nonmaltreated comparison children exhibited greater amplitude while viewing pictures of happy faces compared to angry and neutral faces, whereas the maltreated children showed greater Nc amplitude at central sites while viewing angry faces. For the PSW, the nonmaltreated group showed a greater area score in the right hemisphere in response to viewing angry facial expressions compared to the maltreated group. The results are discussed in terms of brain development and function, as well as their implications for the design and evaluation of preventive interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)641-677
Number of pages37
JournalDevelopment and psychopathology
Volume17
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2005

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