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Extreme Fear, Shyness, and Social Phobia$
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Louis A. Schmidt and Jay Schulkin

Print publication date: 1999

Print ISBN-13: 9780195118872

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195118872.001.0001

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ContentsFRONT MATTER

Behavioral Inhibition and the Emotional Circuitry of the Brain: Stability and Plasticity During the Early Childhood Years

Chapter:
(p.67) 5 Behavioral Inhibition and the Emotional Circuitry of the Brain: Stability and Plasticity During the Early Childhood Years
Source:
Extreme Fear, Shyness, and Social Phobia
Author(s):

Richard J. Davidson

Maureen Rickman

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195118872.003.0005

This chapter presents the data that adrenocortical activity is an important factor mediating the child's internal social milieu. The results show that rat pups may “internalize” the results of early maternal regulation, encoded as information about how easy or difficult it is to activate stress-sensitive systems in adulthood. Discussion on attachment, temperament and adrenocortical function is also provided. Even though only a few studies on attachment and cortisol in humans have been conducted, it is probably that thresholds for adrenocortical function are influenced by early mother-child interactions. The most consistent result observed is that infants with disorganized attachments display larger cortisol responses to the Strange Situation than do those with organized attachments. It can be concluded that there are at least two pathways to hyperactivity of the adrenocortical system: (1) innate constitutional differences (temperament) and (2) less than optimal mother-infant interactions early in life.

Keywords:   attachment, temperament, adrenocortical function, infancy, mother-child interactions, stress-sensitive systems, cortisol

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