Positive and Negative Emotionality at Age 3 Predicts Change in Frontal EEG Asymmetry across Early Childhood

Brandon L. Goldstein*, Stewart A Shankman, Autumn Kujawa, Dana C. Torpey-Newman, Margaret W. Dyson, Thomas M. Olino, Daniel N. Klein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Depression is characterized by low positive emotionality (PE) and high negative emotionality (NE), as well as asymmetries in resting electroencephalography (EEG) alpha power. Moreover, frontal asymmetry has itself been linked to PE, NE, and related constructs. However, little is known about associations of temperamental PE and NE with resting EEG asymmetries in young children and whether this association changes as a function of development. In a longitudinal study of 254 three-year old children, we assessed PE and NE at age 3 using a standard laboratory observation procedure. Frontal EEG asymmetries were assessed at age 3 and three years later at age 6. We observed a significant three-way interaction of preschool PE and NE and age at assessment for asymmetry at F3-F4 electrode sites, such that children with both low PE and high NE developed a pattern of increasingly lower relative left-frontal cortical activity over time. In addition, F7-F8 asymmetry was predicted by a PE by time interaction, such that the frontal asymmetry in children with high PE virtually disappeared by age 6. Overall, these findings suggest that early temperament is associated with developmental changes in frontal asymmetry, and that the combination of low PE and high NE predicts the development of the pattern of frontal symmetry that is associated with depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-219
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 15 2019


  • Children
  • Depression
  • Development
  • Frontal asymmetry
  • Negative emotionality
  • Positive emotionality
  • Resting eeg

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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