Executive function in young children with experience of institutional social-emotional deprivation in a program of early intervention: 2018 г. этап 1

Project: Total grant fulfilmentR&D - Fundamental

Description

BACKGROUND AND CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK
Research data on developmental outcomes in postinstitutionalized (PI) children demonstrate that institutional settings, usually characterized by minimum physical source, non-permanent staff of the institution, inadequate socio-emotional interaction between caregiver and a child (IJzendoorn et al., 2011; Muhamedrahimov et al., 2009;) are associated with significant delays in physical, language, socio-emotional, and cognitive development (Nelson et al., 2007; Rutter et al., 2010), as well as dramatic lag in executive function (Bos et al., 2009; Merz et al., 2013; Vasilyeva et al., 2017). Significant deficits are apparent in PI population even after years of adoption and persist into adolescence and young adulthood (Colvert et al., 2008; Merz et al., 2011; Pollak et al., 2010; etc).
A growing body of research evidence emphasizes the special role of EF in various domains of human development throughout the lifespan and its specificity at early ages. EF refers to the set of higher-order cognitive processes involved in conscious control of thoughts, actions and emotions. In recent research a distinction was made between the “cool” and “hot” aspects of EF with “hot” (affective) subcomponent predominantly engaging emotion/motivation regulation skills and “cool” (cognitive) subcomponent associated with the performance on abstract, emotionally neutral and context-isolated tasks (Hongwanishkul et al., 2005; Kim et al., 2013; Zelazo et al., 2011) suggesting that EF may operate differently in different contexts (Hongwanishkul et al., 2005; Zelazo et al., 2011). The cool-hot distinction has important implications for research into child development, particularly for populations with early life adversity (e.g., children reared in institutional care) as EF were found to be a strong predictor of children’s later behavior and academic outcomes. Studies on children from intact biological families show cool EF task performance significantly predicts school readiness, academic, math and learning skills, while scores on hot EF measures at early childhood are significantly interrelated with further behavioral problems during school period, in particular, with externalizing disorders in preadolescents and coping strategies in adolescents (Kim et al., 2013, Kochanska et al., 2013).
PI children of school age often show pervasive perturbations in specific EF skills such as inhibitory control (Colvert et al., 2008; Pollak et al., 2010), conflict resolution (Loman et al., 2013), working memory, executive attention, task switching (Colvert et al., 2008). Moreover, deficits on hot EF measures could predict children’s social-emotional adjustment and further risk for psychopathology problems among those children (Colvert et al., 2008; Bos et al., 2009). Yet the information concerning EF in young children with the history of institutionalization is limited. Among studies of EF in young PI children, there have been no studies accentuated on cool/hot EF subcomponents. Further consideration of cool/hot subcomponents model of EF might be advantageous to prediction diverse developmental outcomes in children living in non-optimal environments at early ages. Moreover, given the consideration of EF as a heterogeneous construct, it is quite useful to investigate what EF aspects would be most vulnerable to the effects of institutional care and what EF aspects could most effectively be remediated. Questions about the degree of reversibility of postinstitutional problems in early cool and hot EF skills also remain open.
For the last decade, significant changes associated with the reduction in the number of institutions for infants and young children (i.e., the number of these institutions decreased from 254 with 20621 children in 2005 to 161 with 8575 children in 2016) - and the transfer of most of these children to substitute families occurred in the Russian child welfare system. At the same time there is no supportive program for accompanying substitute families, and the percentage of children that were returned to institutions is substantial. To assess whether increasing parental sensitivity would result in increased permanency, the intervention, Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-up intervention (ABC) (Dozier et al., 2005), was implemented with a subset of parents fostering children leaving institutional care. ABC is an evidence-based intervention program with evidence of efficacy at both the behavioral and biological level. One of the effects of the ABC intervention program is improving EF in young children experienced early maltreatment living in foster families (Dozier, 2011; Lind, 2017). Nevertheless, there is a lack of research data devoted to ABC intervention influence on EF in young children transferred from institutions into domestic foster families. The proposed study is aimed to eliminate the aforementioned gap and to expand knowledge through studying early stages of cool and hot EF subcomponents development after intervention in substitute families. We hypothesize that we will observe differences in EF subcomponents in children living in different social conditions (institutions vs. substitute vs. biological families), and specific changes in both cool and hot EF measures will be evident in children after ABC intervention program.


AIMS AND SIGNIFICANCE
The objective of proposed study is to examine cool and hot EF development in young children with a history of institutionalization who participate in ABC intervention relative to EF subcomponents in young children living in institutions, young children living in their biological families, and young children living in substitute families who did not participate in ABC intervention program.
The proposed research presumably falls into the category of “The effectiveness of different models of parenting support on early child development”. The study makes both practical and theoretical contributions. In particular, the unique nature of the proposed sample (young children with early institutional experience transferred to domestic substitute families, and young children living in institutions) provide the potential to advance our knowledge regarding 1) the formation of cool and hot EF development in young children with deprivation experience and 2) the enhancing of cool and hot EF in young children with deprivation experience as the result of participating in ABC intervention. These data could be used as a scientific base for ABC implementation in other areas in the world where institutional care is used.

METHODS
According to the main aim of proposed study, we propose to evaluate EF in young children using “cool” and “hot” measures: Reverse Categorization (adapted from Carlson et al., 2004) and Spin the Pots (adapted from Hughes et al., 2005) - for cool EF skills; Snack Delay (adapted from Kochanska et al., 2000) and Gift Wrap and Gift Delay (adapted from Kochanska et al., 2000) - for hot EF skills. All these tasks are considered as developmentally sensitive measures of EF at early ages (i.e. in population of children from 24 to 48 months) (Carlson et al., 2005).
We plan on recruiting a sample of at least 80 children (age ranging from 24 to 48 months) divided into four groups: 1) ABC group – 20 children with a history of institutionalization placed into substitute families participating in ABC intervention program;2) control group (not-ABC) - 20 children with a history of institutionalization placed into substitute families participating in a different intervention program; 3) baby home group – 20 children currently living in institutions; 4) biological family group – 20 children reared by their biological parents and without any institutional experience. We propose to use an existing dataset generated in the pilot project "Studying the bio-behavioral indicators of children's development with experience of social and emotional deprivation participating in the early intervention program" lead by Rifkat Muhamedrahimov from St. Petersburg State University (St. Petersburg, RF) and by Mary Dozier from the University of Delaware (USA).
The ABC intervention program will include a manualized curriculum and 10 interactive sessions that will be targeted at helping caregivers to a) reinterpret children’s alienating behavioral signals and thus form the secure attachments, b) follow their children’s lead and thus increase their regulatory skills, and c) avoid frightening their children (Dozier et al., 2011). Within the framework of scientific cooperation between SPBGU and the University of Delaware, 4 coachers have been trained and passed a supervision so they have permission to practice ABC in Russian Federation. Not-ABC intervention program will be focused on enhancing children’s motor, cognitive, and language skills directly. This program will consist of an assessment of the child's development by using the most common and accessible in Russia methods - the KID/RSDI scales (Reuters, 1997; Ireton, 1992) and the subsequent meeting of intervention specialist with parents and child for feedback to support child’s development.
Short titleExecutive function in children with institutional experience after early intervention
AcronymInternational_2018 - 1
StatusActive
Effective start/end date1/09/1831/08/19