Many problem behaviors in youth have been attributed to maladaptive self-regulation in response to frustration. Frontolimbic networks that promote flexible as well as over- and undercontrolled regulation could provide evidence linking cortical mechanisms of self-regulation to the development of internalizing or externalizing symptomology. Specifically, ineffective dorsally mediated inhibitory control may be associated with rule-breaking and substance use behaviors, whereas overengagement of ventral limbic systems responsible for self-monitoring of errors may increase risk of developing anxious and depressed symptomology. In this study, a sample of 9- to 13-year-old children were presented with an emotional go/no-go task. Event-related potentials were used to identify differences in cortical mechanisms related to inhibitory control (indexed with the stimulus-locked medial frontal negativity) and self-monitoring (indexed with the error-related negativity). These measurements were then related to externalizing and internalizing behaviors. As predicted, externalizing problems were associated with smaller medial frontal negativity amplitudes, which indicate undercontrolled self-regulation and poor dorsal mediation of actions. Internalizing symptoms were related to larger error-related negativity amplitudes, demonstrating overregulation and overengagement of ventral limbic systems. These findings suggest that the use of event-related potential methodology with paradigms that elicit cognition-emotion can provide insight into the neural mechanisms of regulatory deficits that result in problem behaviors in youth.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health