At the University of Notre Dame Suicide Prevention Initiative—Research, Intervention, & Training (SPIRIT), we seek to better understand how temperamental predispositions, such as behavioral impulsivity develop, and how socialization of emotion regulation can protect against temperamental risk. We are also interested in how certain experiences in childhood and adolescence, such as trauma, coercive parenting, neighborhood disadvantage, and minority status/identity, place individuals at risk for emotional difficulties later in life.
We conceptualize emotion regulation as the ability to modulate negative affective states, such as sadness and anger. Those who develop poor emotion regulation capabilities are vulnerable to later depression, anxiety, substance use, self-injury, and in some cases, delinquency.
We develop preventive interventions for some of these conditions through scientific exploration of emotion regulation and its development. We are particularly concerned with family interaction patterns that reinforce negative affect (e.g., anger, disappointment) and physiological arousal, and with the roles these patterns play in children's social and emotional development. Childhood and adolescence are particularly important periods during which developing brain networks are vulnerable to long-term changes in function.
We assess behavior regulation and emotion regulation using direct observation, psychophysiology, self-report, and brain imaging. Some of our recent research projects (with links to selected papers) include
- Brain function, autonomic nervous system function, and biological stress responding among adolescents who have attempted suicide
- Early interventions for children with ADHD
- Longitudinal evaluations of conduct problems and depression in preadolescence, among others.
These projects are funded through grants from:
- National Institute of Mental Health
- National Institute on Drug Abuse
- National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research
- National Institutes of Health Science of Behavior Change Common Fund Program