Toddlers’ dysregulated fear predicts delta–beta coupling during preschool
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Dysregulated fear, or the persistence of high levels of fear in low-threat contexts, is an early risk factor for the development of anxiety symptoms. Previous work has suggested both propensities for over-control and under-control of fearfulness as risk factors for anxiety problems, each of which may be relevant to observations of dysregulated fear. Given difficulty disentangling over-control and under-control through traditional behavioral measures, we used delta-beta coupling to begin to understand the degree to which dysregulated fear may reflect propensities for over- or under-control. We found that toddlers who showed high levels of dysregulated fear evidenced greater delta-beta coupling at frontal and central electrode sites as preschoolers relative to children who were low in dysregulated fear. Importantly, these differences were not observed when comparisons were made based on fear levels in high threat contexts. Results suggest dysregulated fear may involve tendencies toward over-control at the neural level.
author list (cited authors)
Phelps, R. A., Brooker, R. J., & Buss, K. A.