In this longitudinal population-based study (N = 544), we investigated whether early parenting and corpus callosum length predict child executive function abilities at 4 years of age. The length of the corpus callosum in infancy was measured using postnatal cranial ultrasounds at 6 weeks of age. At 3 years, two aspects of parenting were observed: maternal sensitivity during a teaching task and maternal discipline style during a discipline task. Parents rated executive function problems at 4 years of age in five domains of inhibition, shifting, emotional control, working memory, and planning/organizing, using the Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function-Preschool Version. Maternal sensitivity predicted less executive function problems at preschool age. A significant interaction was found between corpus callosum length in infancy and maternal use of positive discipline to determine child inhibition problems: The association between a relatively shorter corpus callosum in infancy and child inhibition problems was reduced in children who experienced more positive discipline. Our results point to the buffering potential of positive parenting for children with biological vulnerability.

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Child Neuropsychology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Kok, R, Lucassen, N, Bakermans-Kranenburg, M.J, van IJzendoorn, M.H, Ghassabian, A, Roza, S.J, … Tiemeier, H.W. (2013). Parenting, corpus callosum, and executive function in preschool children. Child Neuropsychology. doi:10.1080/09297049.2013.832741