How does the quality of the parent-child relationship affect the development of executive function in children? That is what University of Montreal Professor Annie Bernier will discuss Friday at the first LaMarsh Centre for Child and Youth Research talk of the academic year.
Executive functioning (EF) is a set of higher-order cognitive processes that underlie flexible goal-directed behaviours, such as inhibitory control, working memory, planning and set-shifting. EF develops rapidly during the preschool years, and individual differences in child executive performance are related to a host of cognitive and socio-emotional outcomes, says Bernier. The origins of these individual differences are, however, still ill-understood.
Bernier will deliver the talk “Parenting and Young Children’s Executive Function Development” Sept. 12, from 1:30 to 3pm, at 280N York Lanes, Keele campus. RSVP to email@example.com.
“One of the primary aims of our program of research is to investigate the antecedents of child EF. This talk will cover some of our recent findings, pertaining mostly to the direct and moderated links between the quality of parent-child relationships – maternal behaviour during mother-infant interactions, paternal behaviour during father-infant interactions, mother-child attachment security – and children’s subsequent EF,” says Bernier.
“Overall, findings suggest that infants exposed to higher-quality parenting, and those more securely attached to their mother, perform better on EF tasks between ages 18 months and 3 years.”
Research findings suggest, however, that these links are moderated by family socio-economic status and child temperament. More vulnerable children, such as those from lower socio-economic status families and/or with more difficult temperaments, appear to be more affected by the quality of their relationships with their parents – consistent with the differential susceptibility hypothesis.
Bernier joined the faculty of the University of Montreal in 2002, where she is currently a professor at the Department of Psychology. Her scientific interests include parent-child relationships, infant and adult attachment, sleep regulation, brain development, theory of mind and executive functioning in young children. She is currently running a longitudinal study aiming to investigate the prospective relations between quality of the early caregiving environment and individual differences in several spheres of children’s development, with particular interest in sleep regulation and executive functioning.