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Video: Parental Criticism Impacts How Children’s Brains Respond to Emotional Information. Neuroscien

Summary: A new study reveals children show less attention to emotional facial expressions if their parents are highly critical. Source: Binghamton University.

The researchers wanted to examine how exposure to parental criticism impacts the way that children process and pay attention to facial expressions of emotion. image is apated from the Binghamton University video.

James and fellow researchers had parents of 7 to 11-year-old children talk about their child for five minutes. These statements were later coded for levels of criticism. They also measured the brain activity of the children as they viewed a series of pictures of faces showing different emotions.

The researchers found that children of highly critical parents displayed less attention to all of the emotional facial expressions than children of parents displaying low levels of criticism.

“We know from previous research that people have a tendency to avoid things that make them uncomfortable, anxious, or sad because such feelings are aversive. We also know that children with a critical parent are more likely to use avoidant coping strategies when they are in distress than children without a critical parent,” said James.

“Given this research, and our findings that children with a critical parent pay less attention to all emotional facial expressions than children without a critical parent, one possible explanation is that the children with a critical parent avoid looking at any facial expressions of emotion. This may help them avoid exposure to critical expressions, and, by extension, the aversive feelings they might associate with parental criticism. That said, it may also prevent them from seeing positive expressions from others.”

Children of highly critical parents show less attention to emotional facial expressions, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University at New York.

The researchers hope to follow up these results with another study examining what happens in the brains of children in real time when they are receiving positive and negative comments from their parents.


Funding: This research was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health grant MH098060 awarded to B.E. Gibb. The authors thank Katie Burkhouse, Anastacia Kudinova, Aliona Tsypes, Cope Feurer, Sydney Meadows, Michael Van Wie, Devra Alper, Eric Funk, Effua Sosoo, Nathan Hall, Aholibama Lopez, and Kristina Wong for their help in conducting assessments for this project.

Source: Binghamton University Publisher: Organized by Image Source: image is apated from the Binghamton University video.

Video Source: Abstract to Binghamton University. Original Research: Abstract for “Parental Expressed Emotion-Criticism and Neural Markers of Sustained Attention to Emotional Faces in Children” by Kiera M. James, Max Owens, Mary L. Woody, Nathan T. Hall & Brandon E. Gibb in Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology.

Published May 2 2018 doi:10.1080/15374416.2018.1453365

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