Moderation of the relationship between the error-related negativity and anxiety by age and gender in young children: A preliminary investigation

Ka I. Ip, Yanni Liu, Jason Moser, Kristin Mannella, Jessica Hruschak, Emily Bilek, Maria Muzik, Katherine Rosenblum, Kate Fitzgerald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

The error-related negativity (ERN) is a neurophysiologic response to errors that associates with anxiety. Despite the potential relevance of the ERN for understanding mechanisms of early anxiety problems in the developing brain, the relation between ERN and anxious symptoms in young children remains poorly understood. Emerging evidence suggests that ERN-anxiety associations could vary by developmental stage, but this work requires replication and consideration of gender effects, given earlier maturation of the ERN and higher rates of anxiety problems in girls relative to boys. To address this gap, the ERN was collected in 49 preschool- to school-aged children (ages 4–9; 26 girls) sampled across a wide range of anxiety severity. Regression analyses revealed that ERN - anxiety associations depended on age and gender. Specifically, larger (more negative) ERN associated with more anxiety in older girls, whereas smaller ERN associated with more anxiety symptoms in younger girls. No ERN-anxiety association was found in boys. These findings suggest that age and gender moderate the direction of the relation between ERN and anxiety in early childhood and could have important implications for the development of ERN-based risk identification and targeted treatment strategies tailored to individual children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100702
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Volume39
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Authors

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Children
  • Development
  • ERN
  • Error-related negativity
  • Moderator

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