Self-regulation, particularly attention regulation, is related to anxiety. Children who have been internationally adopted (IA) are at risk for deficits in both attention and emotion regulation. Promising evidence for focal executive function (EF) training and mindfulness training suggest that these skills can be readily improved in adults and children, and training EF independently may transfer to emotion regulation skills. This study examined the effects of mindfulness and executive function training programs on neural correlates of self-regulation in a sample of 96 IA children. Children were randomized to receive either 12 total hours of training (mindfulness vs. executive function) or a no-intervention control. Children completed a battery of executive function measures at laboratory testing sessions before and after the 6-week training period. Four months after training, parents and teachers provided additional ratings of children’s self-regulation skills. Executive function training led to improvement on measures of executive attention and inhibitory control, whereas mindfulness training was related to improvements in emotion regulation. Changes in the error-related negativity (ERN) were divergent between the two groups, supporting the differential impact of training on behavior. There was no evidence of transfer of EF training to observer reports of emotion regulation.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2015. Major: Child Psychology. Advisor: Megan Gunnar. 1 computer file (PDF); vi, 112 pages.
Neural Correlates of Mindfulness and Executive Function Training in Internationally Adopted Children: A Randomized, Controlled Trial.
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