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The role of early attachment and parental presence in adolescent behavioral and neurobiological regulation


Early attachment shapes brain development underlying emotion regulation. Given that sensitivity to affective cues is heightened during adolescence and effective emotion regulation strategies continue to develop, it is imperative to examine the role of early attachment and parental influence on adolescent regulation. Fifty-one children (M age=32.61 months) participated in a modified Strange Situation with their mother and approximately 10 years later (M age =13.2 years) completed an fMRI scan during which they were presented with appetitive and aversive affective cues (images of adolescent interactions) during a Go-Nogo task. They completed the task alone and in the presence of a parent. Behavioral multilevel models and whole-brain analyses showed attachment-related patterns, such that affective cues elicited greater behavioral and neural dysregulation in insecure (versus secure) adolescents. Furthermore, parental presence buffered behavioral and neural dysregulation toward socially aversive cues for adolescents with early insecure attachment, underscoring the salience of caregivers across development in promoting regulation in their offspring