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Child Development Research
Volume 2013, Article ID 203061, 9 pages
Review Article

Linking Early Adversity, Emotion Dysregulation, and Psychopathology: The Case of Extremely Low Birth Weight Infants

1Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
2Department of Psychiatry & Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada

Received 9 November 2012; Revised 16 February 2013; Accepted 11 March 2013

Academic Editor: Annie Vinter

Copyright © 2013 Lauren A. Drvaric et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The ability to regulate emotion is a crucial process that humans utilize in order to adapt to the demands of environmental constraints. Individuals exposed to early adverse life events such as being born at an extremely low birth weight (ELBW, 501–1000 g) are known to have problems regulating emotion which have been linked to the development of psychopathology in this population. Recent studies have used psychophysiological measures, such as electroencephalogram (EEG) and cardiac vagal tone, to index emotion regulatory processes. The purpose of this paper was three-fold: (1) to investigate the relation between ELBW and emotion regulation issues (pathway 1), (2) to review studies investigating the relation between early emotion regulation and later internalizing problems (pathway 2); and (3) to provide a model in which two psychophysiological measures (i.e., frontal EEG asymmetry and cardiac vagal tone) are suggested to understand the proposed conceptual pathways in the relation between ELBW and psychopathology.