Moderating the Risk for Attention Deficits in Children with Pre-Adoptive Adversity: The Protective Role of Shorter Duration of out of Home Placement and Children’s Enhanced Error Monitoring

Tahl I. Frenkel, Bonny Donzella, Kristin A. Frenn, Sofie Rousseau, Nathan A. Fox, Megan R. Gunnar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Early institutional-deprivation has been found to increase risk for inattention/hyperactivity (ADHD). Notably, studies suggest that children with a history of adversity evidencing an enhanced ERP (the error-related-negativity; ERN) may be protected against attention problems. However, such protective effects of the ERN have been studied in children whom typically experienced residential instability. It is unknown whether error-monitoring is similarly protective for children with stable post-deprivation placements. The present study examined the protective effect of the ERN in a sample of children who experienced at least 3-years of stable, relatively enriched caregiving after being internationally-adopted as infants/toddlers from institutional-care. We included two groups of children adopted internationally before age three, one group adopted from institutional-care (PI:n = 80) and one comparison group adopted from foster-care (FC;n = 44). A second comparison group consisted of non-adopted children (NA;n = 48) from demographically comparable families. At five-years of age, we assessed child ADHD symptoms (parent-report) and behavioral performance and neural correlates of error-monitoring (Go/No-Go task). PI children displayed lower Go/No-Go accuracy relative to FC children, and higher levels of ADHD symptoms relative to NA controls. In both FC and PI groups, longer duration of pre-adoptive out-of-home placement was associated with inattention, especially for children with deficits in error-monitoring. Enhancing cognitive control in the form of error monitoring might be a useful intervention target to protect children from some of the negative outcomes associated with adverse early care. Furthermore, results underscore that regardless of type of pre-adoptive care, we should aim to place children in stable/permanent homes as early as possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1115-1128
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Volume48
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

Keywords

  • ADHD and externalizing symptoms
  • Adoption
  • Error-related negativity
  • Event-related potentials
  • Foster-care
  • Institutions

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article

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