The impact of early neglect on defensive and appetitive physiology during the pubertal transition: A study of startle and postauricular reflexes

Karina Quevedo, Anna E. Johnson, Michelle M. Loman, Theresa Lafavor, Bao Moua, Megan R. Gunnar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study tested the effect of early neglect on defensive and appetitive physiology during puberty. Emotion-modulated reflexes, eye-blink startle (defensive) and postauricular (appetitive), were measured in 12-to-13-year-old internationally adopted youth (from foster care or from institutional settings) and compared to non-adopted US born controls. Startle Reflex: adopted youth displayed lower overall startle amplitude across all valences and startle potentiation to negative images was negatively related to severity of pre-adoption neglect. Postauricular reflex (PAR): adopted youth showed larger PAR magnitude across all valences. Puberty: adopted youth showed diminished PAR potentiation to positive images and startle potentiation during mid/late puberty versus the opposite pattern in not-adopted. Early neglect was associated with blunted fast defensive reflexes and heightened fast appetitive reflexes. After puberty, early neglected youth showed physiological hyporeactivity to threatening and appetitive stimuli versus heightened reactivity in not adopted youth. Behavioral correlates in this sample and possible neurodevelopmental mechanisms of psychophysiological differences are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-304
Number of pages16
JournalDevelopmental psychobiology
Volume57
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015

Keywords

  • Adolescence
  • Behavior
  • Fast emotional processing
  • Neglect
  • Neural development
  • Physiology of emotion
  • Postauricular reflex
  • Puberty
  • Startle

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