In Infancy, It’s the Extremes of Arousal That Are ‘Sticky’: Naturalistic Data Challenge Purely Homeostatic Approaches to Studying Self-Regulation

Article


Wass, S., Smith, C. G., Clackson, K. and Mirza, F. U. 2020. In Infancy, It’s the Extremes of Arousal That Are ‘Sticky’: Naturalistic Data Challenge Purely Homeostatic Approaches to Studying Self-Regulation. Developmental Science. https://doi.org/10.1111/desc.13059
AuthorsWass, S., Smith, C. G., Clackson, K. and Mirza, F. U.
Abstract

Most theoretical models of arousal/regulatory function emphasise the maintenance of homeostasis; consistent with this, most previous research into arousal has concentrated on examining individuals’ recovery following the administration of experimentally administered stressors. Here, we take a different approach: we recorded day-long spontaneous fluctuations in autonomic arousal (indexed via electrocardiogram, heart rate variability and actigraphy) in a cohort of 82 typically developing 12-month-old infants while they were at home and awake. Based on the aforementioned models, we hypothesised that extreme high or low arousal states might be more short-lived than intermediate arousal states. Our results suggested that, contrary to this, both low- and high-arousal states were more persistent than intermediate arousal states. The same pattern was present when the data were viewed over multiple epoch sizes from 1 second to 5 minutes; over 10-15-minute time-scales, high-arousal states were more persistent than low- and intermediate states. One possible explanation for these findings is that extreme arousal states have intrinsically greater hysteresis; another is that, through ‘metastatic’ processes, small initial increases and decreases in arousal can become progressively amplified over time. Rather than exclusively studying recovery, we argue that future research into self regulation during early childhood should instead examine the mechanisms through which some states can be maintained, or even amplified, over time.

JournalDevelopmental Science
ISSN1363-755X
Year2020
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Accepted author manuscript
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Supplemental file
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Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1111/desc.13059
Publication dates
Online04 Nov 2020
Publication process dates
Accepted21 Oct 2020
Deposited27 Oct 2020
FunderEconomic and Social Research Council
European Research Council
Leverhulme Trust
Copyright holder© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Additional information

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Wass, S., Smith, C. G., Clackson, K. and Mirza, F. U., In Infancy, It’s the Extremes of Arousal That Are ‘Sticky’: Naturalistic Data Challenge Purely Homeostatic Approaches to Studying Self-Regulation, Developmental Science, 2020, Vol, (In Press), pp. xx-xx, which has been published in final form at https://doi.org/10.1111/desc.13059. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.

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