Date of Award

2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Alice Schermerhorn

Abstract

Exposure to interparental conflict has been implicated in children's development. Research suggests that underlying mechanisms, such as neuropsychological indicators of cognitive processes, may shed light on how exposure to interparental conflict differentially influences children's outcomes over time. Event-related potentials (ERP), extracted from electroencephalogram data, allow for examination of neuropsychological markers of cognition based on precise timing and scalp topography of electrical activity in the brain. For example, the late positive potential (LPP) ERP component has been implicated in the timing and magnitude of sustained attention and emotion regulation processes elicited in response to emotionally salient stimuli. LPP amplitudes and peak latencies were compared for a community sample of 23 children (9-11 years of age, 12 females) during an oddball task, which used images of couples looking angry, happy, and neutral toward each other. Linear mixed models were used to analyze whether children's perceptions of interparental conflict, and whether they were from high- compared to low-conflict homes, influenced their level of neuropsychological resources directed toward angry compared to happy emotionally-charged interpersonal images. Significant results were found for when children were directed to respond to angry images. Differences emerged in LPP amplitudes for all children in the sample, with the greatest amplitudes produced for happy images compared to neutral and angry images. Regarding conflict exposure and perceptions of conflict, children from homes with greater levels of conflict and children who blamed themselves for conflicts they witnessed between parents produced greater LPP amplitudes when happy trials were presented compared to neutral trials. Finally, females reached their maximum LPP amplitude faster than males for neutral trials compared to angry trials. Results are discussed in terms of the implications for children's processing of interpersonal emotions as it is related to underlying neuropsychological mechanisms for sustained attention and emotion regulation.

Language

en

Number of Pages

78 p.

Available for download on Friday, July 27, 2018

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