Prefrontal asymmetry and parent-rated temperament in infants

PLoS One. 2011;6(7):e22694. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022694. Epub 2011 Jul 28.


Indicators of temperament appear early in infancy and remain relatively stable over time. Despite a great deal of interest in biological indices of temperament, most studies of infant temperament rely on parental reports or behavioral tasks. Thus, the extent to which commonly used temperament measures relate to potential biological indicators of infant temperament is still relatively unknown. The current experiment examines the relationship between a common parental report measure of temperament--the Infant Behavior Questionnaire-Revised (IBQ-R)--and measures of frontal EEG asymmetry in infants. We examined associations between the subscales of the IBQ-R and frontal EEG asymmetry scores recorded during a combined series of neutral attentional and putatively emotional recording conditions in infants between 7 and 9 months of age. We predicted that approach-related subscales of the IBQ-R (e.g., Approach, Soothability) would be related to greater left prefrontal asymmetry, while withdrawal-related subscales (e.g., Distress to Limitations, Fear, Falling Reactivity, Perceptual Sensitivity) would be related to greater right prefrontal asymmetry. In the mid- and lateral-frontal regions, Approach, Distress to Limitations, Fear, Soothability, and Perceptual Sensitivity were generally associated with greater left frontal activation (rs≥.23, ps<0.05), while only Falling Reactivity was associated with greater right frontal activation (rs≤-.44, ps<0.05). Results suggest that variability in frontal EEG asymmetry is robustly associated with parental report measures of temperament in infancy.

MeSH terms

  • Electroencephalography
  • Frontal Lobe / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Behavior / physiology*
  • Infant Behavior / psychology*
  • Parents
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Temperament / physiology*