Discipline: Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
Subcategory: Social Sciences/Psychology/Economics
Isabel Solis - University of New Mexico
Co-Author(s): Julia Stephen, PhD, Mind Research Network, Albuquerque, NM, Vince Calhoun, PhD, Mind Research Network, Albuquerque, NM, Yu-Ping Wang, PhD, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA, Tony Wilson, PhD, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, Kristina T.R. Ciesielski, PhD, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
Social interactions represent complex and multi-level visual cognitive events that rely on rapid, selective perception of frequently ambiguous social cues, such as facial expressions or biological body movements. This requires flexible responses and highly proficient top-down inhibitory control. Our earlier study with children at high risk for autism indicated that reduced top-down inhibitory control of irrelevant information during complex visual processing may be a risk factor for social deficits and victimization from bullying (Newton et al., 2016). Here, we hypothesize that poor inhibitory control of interference in two tasks, basic visual sensory discrimination and complex visually-driven conceptual flexibility, will be correlated with more frequent bullying experiences and increased depressive/anxiety traits in typically developing children. Methods: 77 typically developing (IQ: M=109.22, SD=14.28) children ages 9-14 years (M=11.31, SD=1.76) were studied. The NIH Toolbox measures included the Flanker Inhibitory Control and Attention Test (FICAT; detection of a target while inhibiting lateral stimuli) and the Dimensional Change Card Sort Test (DCCST; a cognitive conceptual shift task with high demand for top-down inhibitory control). We also used the Peer Problems Scale and Internalizing Scale (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire-Child; SDQ-C), which assesses social rejection and anxious/depressive moods. Results: To examine whether performance on visual tasks requiring top-down inhibitory control relates to social rejection and depressive/anxiety traits, the Pearson correlation coefficient r was calculated with a significance level set at 5%. No significant correlations were found between FICAT and social rejection (r=-.20, p= .075), or depressive/anxiety traits (SDQ-C; r=- .16, p=.155). In contrast, significant negative correlations were found between poor performance on the DCCST and high measures of peer conflict and rejection (r =- .29, p= .011), as well as high measures of depression/anxiety (r=- .33, p=.004). Conclusion: These results suggest that a reduction in basic visual sensory discrimination and lateral inhibition (bottom-up processing) appears less critical for social competence than conceptual flexibility of complex visual information (top-down inhibitory control; Bressler et al., 2008) which may interfere with a child’s social competence and constitute a risk factor for social rejection and bullying (Crone & Dahl, 2012). This study may provide novel directions for cognitive preventive measures against social victimization. References: Bressler, S.L., Tang, W., Sylvester, C.M., Shulman, G.L., & Corbetta, M. (2008). Top-down control of human visual cortex by frontal and parietal cortex in anticipatory visual spatial attention. Journal of Neuroscience, 28(40), 10056-10061. Crone, E.A., & Dahl, R.E. (2012). Understanding adolescence as a period of social-affective engagement and goal flexibility. Nature reviews. Neuroscience, 13(9), 636. Newton, V., Solis, I., Aviña, G.E., McClain, J.T., King, C., & Ciesielski, K.T.R. (2017, July). Analysis of Social Interaction Narratives in Unaffected Siblings of Children with ASD Through Latent Dirichlet Allocation. In International Conference on Augmented Cognition (pp. 357-371). Springer, Cham.Not Submitted
Funder Acknowledgement(s): Funding was provided by an NSF grant #1539067 to PIs: V. Calhoun, J. Stephen, Y. Wang & T. Wilson.
Faculty Advisor: Kristina T. Rewin Ciesielski, email@example.com
Role: I assisted with the recruitment of study participants, data collection and data management.