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NEONATAL BRAINSTEM’S ROLE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF SELF-REGULATION

 תפקיד גזע המוח בינקות בהיתפתחות ויסות עצמי

 
Ronny Geva, Jessica Schreiber, Michal Marcus, Lihi Caspi, Yaakov Kuint
רוני גבע, ג'סיקה שרייבר, מיכל מרקוס, ליהי כספי, יעקב קוינט
 
The Developmental Neuropsychology Lab, Psychology Department, Gonda Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center, Bar-Ilan University 

 
Introduction
Behavioral Inhibition (BI) influences infants’ tendencies to withdraw or avoid initiation when stressed (Garcia-Coll et al., 1984). Additionally, involvement of the brainstem in self-regulation has recently been shown (Porges, Furman 2011; Geva et al., 2011). We will explore how compromised brainstem in neonates increases the risk for BI and compromises initiation as a means of self-regulating stress responses. 
 
Materials and Methods
Brainstem functioning was evaluated at birth in 66 low-risk premature infants (GA=33.1wks, birth weight =1775g, 51% Females) using auditory brainstem evoked responses (normal: NBSF, N=40; compromised: CBSF, N=26) and a longitudinal design. At 12m (corrected for prematurity), the Separation Reunion paradigm was administered.

Results
Presence of CBSF was found to increase the risk for BI when controlling for birth weight and temperamental activity levels (F=4.131, p<.05).  ANOVA, controlling for gender, birth weight and temperamental activity levels, showed for CBSF, more inactivity, F=9.467, p<.01 and less initiation, F= 17.550, p<.001 during reunion; and more joint attention, F= 6.375, p< .05 and less gazing independently to objects, F=9.142, p<.01, during reunion (Figs 1, 2). Controlling for BI showed that CBSF presented with lack of initiation strategy (F=15.652, p<.001) and more passivity/dependency tendencies (F=17.323, p<.001; Figs 4, 5). 

Conclusion
Brainstem appears to mediate BI in controlling the fight-flight mechanism, and CBSF seems to impede upon initiation of regulatory activity, and heightens reliance on the caretaker to initiate gaze or motor strategies. 
 
 
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