Projects - Pilot Projects
Behavioral and Physiological Mother-Child Synchrony as a Moderator of Genetic Risk in a Preschool Sample
Principle investigator: Drs. Anne Shaffer and Cynthia Suveg, University of Georgia
Funding agency: NIDA
Year began: 2010
Topic: Behavioral and physiological mother-child synchrony as a moderator of genetic risk in a preschool sample.
The current study proposes to examine the genetic underpinnings of parent-child mutual reactivity. Working with a racially and ethnically diverse community sample, the researchers will collect saliva samples to allow a study of the 5-HTTLPR polymorphism (serotonin transporene regulatory region) and the DRD4 7-repeat polymorphism. These polymorphisms are being examined in particular because the former has been identified as a risk factor for poor self-regulation and symptoms of psychopathology and the latter has been shown to interact with other environmental variables to predict poor psychosocial outcomes for children. The investigators will integrate the genetic data with data that will be collected by observing mothers and children during an emotionally-evocative task. Additional physiological measurements such as cortisol reactivity and heart rate variability will be examined to see if parents’ physiological and behavioral reactivity is synchronous with children’s reactivity during emotionally-arousing events. Ultimately, the study is to explore whether parent-child mutual reactivity moderates risk for early socioemotional developmental difficulties that can presage later problems such as drug abuse and antisocial behavior.