Dr. Sihong Liu is a Social Science Research Scholar at Stanford Center on Early Childhood (SCEC) in the Graduate School of Education. Dr. Liu obtained her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Science at the University of Georgia in 2020, and a B.S. in Statistics from Renmin University of China in 2015. Her research focuses on investigating the developmental processes of risk and resilience among children and adolescents exposed to early life stress, with the ultimate goal of directly developing intervention programs and influencing social policies

Dr. Liu adopts various research perspectives and methodologies in her research investigation. One particular research area of her work examines the underlying neurobiological mechanisms that connect early experiences to youth's behavioral outcomes, where she employs neuroimaging, electrocardiogram, and neuroendocrine stress response assessments to study the multi-level neurobiological processes. In line with the neurobiological focus, her recent work specifically examines how unpredictability in early experiences affect child socioemotional and cognitive development as well as the neural and stress response underpinnings of these effects.

Currently, Dr. Liu is also actively involved in the ongoing RAPID project, a large national survey platform that uses frequent, brief, online surveys to assess essential needs from families and child care providers and provide actionable data to key stakeholders to inform policy and program decisions. As the methodologist of the RAPID project, Dr. Liu works with partners from local communities, advocacy groups, and academic institutions and leverages both quantitative and qualitative analytical strategies to transform parents' and child care providers voices into actionable practices.

Academic Appointments

  • Social Science Research Scholar, GSE Centers and Programs

Professional Education

  • B.S., Renmin University of China, Statistics (2015)
  • M.S., The University of Georgia, Human Development and Family Science (2017)
  • Ph.D., The University of Georgia, Human Development and Family Science (2020)

All Publications

  • Mental-Health Trajectories of U.S. Parents With Young Children During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Universal Introduction of Risk CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE Zalewski, M., Liu, S., Gunnar, M., Lengua, L. J., Fisher, P. A. 2022
  • Material hardship level and unpredictability in relation to U.S. households' family interactions and emotional well-being: Insights from the COVID-19 pandemic. Social science & medicine (1982) Liu, S., Zalewski, M., Lengua, L., Gunnar, M. R., Giuliani, N., Fisher, P. A. 2022; 307: 115173


    The COVID-19 pandemic has been recognized to provide rare insight to advance the scientific understanding of early life adversity, such as material hardship. During the COVID-19 pandemic, material hardship (i.e., difficulty paying for basic needs) in families of young children has had detrimental effects on caregivers' and children's well-being. In addition to the degree of material hardship, the week-to-week and month-to-month unpredictability of hardship status may add to families' stress and worsen well-being. This study examined the magnitude of and mechanisms underlying the effects of material hardship level and unpredictability on the well-being of U.S. households with young children during the pandemic.Data were drawn from the RAPID project, a large ongoing national study that used weekly/biweekly online surveys to investigate the pandemic impact on U.S. households with young children. The current study leveraged data from 4621 families who provided at least three responses between April 2020 and October 2021.Findings indicated that racial/ethnic minorities and lower-income households experienced higher levels of material hardship and unpredictability during the pandemic, compared to their White or higher-income counterparts. Levels of pandemic-related material hardship and hardship unpredictability were both significantly associated with worsened well-being among caregivers and children. Finally, the effects of hardship level and unpredictability on well-being outcomes were partially mediated through disrupted family routines.The findings from this study highlight that ensuring equal and adequate access to financial resources, as well as promoting financial stability for households with young children are both critical for maintaining functional family dynamics and promoting caregivers' and children's optimal well-being.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.socscimed.2022.115173

    View details for PubMedID 35785642

  • Early experience unpredictability in child development as a model for understanding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: A translational neuroscience perspective. Developmental cognitive neuroscience Liu, S., Fisher, P. A. 2022; 54: 101091


    Extensive evidence links adverse experiences during childhood to a wide range of negative consequences in biological, socioemotional, and cognitive development. Unpredictability is a core element underlying most forms of early adversity; it has been a focus of developmental research for many years and has been receiving increasing attention recently. In this article, we propose a conceptual model to describe how unpredictable and adverse early experiences affect children's neurobiological, behavioral, and psychological development in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. We first highlight the critical role of unpredictability in child development by reviewing existing conceptual models of early adversity as they relate to subsequent development across the lifespan. Then, we employ a translational neuroscience framework to summarize the current animal- and human-based evidence on the neurobiological alterations induced by early experience unpredictability. We further argue that the COVID-19 pandemic serves as a global "natural experiment" that provides rare insight to the investigation of the negative developmental consequences of widespread, clustered, and unpredictable adverse events among children. We discuss how the pandemic helps advance the science of unpredictable early adverse experiences. As unpredictability research continues to grow, we highlight several directions for future studies and implications for policymaking and intervention practices.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.dcn.2022.101091

    View details for PubMedID 35217299

  • A brief video-coaching intervention buffers young children's vulnerability to the impact of caregivers' depressive symptoms: Examination of differential susceptibility DEVELOPMENT AND PSYCHOPATHOLOGY Liu, S., Fisher, P. A., Schlueter, L. J., Phu, T., Gunnar, M. R., Watamura, S. E. 2021; 33 (5): 1685-1700
  • Amygdalar Activation as a Neurobiological Marker of Differential Sensitivity in the Effects of Family Rearing Experiences on Socioemotional Adjustment in Youths BIOLOGICAL PSYCHIATRY-COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE AND NEUROIMAGING Liu, S., Oshri, A., Kogan, S. M., Wickrama, K. S., Sweet, L. 2021; 6 (11): 1052-1062


    Substantial heterogeneity exists in how rearing environments influence youths' socioemotional outcomes. This heterogeneity, as suggested by the biological sensitivity to context theory and the differential susceptibility theory, is associated with emotional reactivity patterns and underlying neural functions. The present study investigated amygdalar reactivity to emotional stimuli as a neural signature that amplified the influence of rearing environments on youths' socioemotional outcomes.To increase replicability and generalizability, this investigation included two independent studies that methodologically complemented each other. Study 1 employed a large, national, longitudinal dataset (the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development study; N = 11,875). Study 2 used a community sample of youths (N = 123) with multimethod and multireporter assessments.In study 1, high left amygdalar reactivity to positive stimuli significantly amplified the impact of parental warmth on youths' prosocial behaviors. In study 2, left and right amygdalar reactivity to positive stimuli significantly intensified the associations between family functioning and youths' internalizing problems. These findings were consistent with the biological sensitivity to context theory/differential susceptibility theory hypothesis because significant socioemotional differences were observed at both negative and positive extremes of rearing environments. Additionally, study 2 partially supported the diathesis-stress hypothesis by showing significant differences in youths' vulnerability to negative family environments. Specifically, left amygdalar response to negative stimuli exacerbated the associations between unbalanced family functioning and heightened internalizing/externalizing symptoms. Left amygdalar reactivity to positive stimuli intensified the link between unbalanced family functioning and elevated externalizing problems.Among youths and adolescents, amygdalar emotional reactivity may serve as a biomarker of differential sensitivity to rearing environments.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bpsc.2021.04.017

    View details for Web of Science ID 000717953300006

    View details for PubMedID 33964518

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8568728

  • Examining the relationship between discrimination, access to material resources, and black children?s behavioral functioning during COVID-19 EARLY CHILDHOOD RESEARCH QUARTERLY Ibekwe-Okafor, N., Sims, J., Liu, S., Curenton-Jolly, S., Iruka, I., Escayg, K., Bruno, B., Fisher, P. 2023; 62: 335-346
  • Improving Children's Expressive Language and Auditory Comprehension Through Responsive Caregiving: Evidence from a Randomized Controlled Trial of a Strength-Based Video-Coaching Intervention. Prevention science : the official journal of the Society for Prevention Research Imhof, A., Liu, S., Schlueter, L., Phu, T., Watamura, S., Fisher, P. 2022


    Young children from low-SES backgrounds are at higher risk for delayed language development, likely due to differences in their home language environment and decreased opportunities for back and forth communicative exchange. Intervention strategies that encourage reciprocal caregiver-child interactions may effectively promote young children's language development and enhance optimal language outcomes. The Filming Interactions to Nurture Development (FIND) program is a brief strength-based video-coaching intervention designed to promote increased back and forth ("serve and return") interactions between caregivers and their children. The current study used data from a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to examine the effectiveness of the FIND program in improving auditory comprehension and expressive communication skills among children from low-SES backgrounds. The current study used a pretest-posttest design to evaluate intervention effects from an RCT with 91 low-SES families. Families with children aged 4 to 36months old (41.8% female) were randomly assigned to an active control or FIND intervention group. Children's auditory comprehension and expressive communication were assessed using the Preschool Language Scales, Fifth Edition (PLS-5) during both pre- and post-intervention sessions. Children in the FIND intervention group showed significantly increased expressive communication skills and a non-significant increase in auditory comprehension skills across the intervention period. In contrast, children in the active control group showed non-significant changes in expressive communication and a statistically significant decline in auditory comprehension abilities between pre- and post-intervention assessments. All analyses controlled for sex, age, and home language. This study provides preliminary evidence that the FIND intervention promotes the development of expressive and receptive language skills among young children in high-stress, low-SES environments.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s11121-022-01455-4

    View details for PubMedID 36322270

  • Is perceived stress linked to enhanced cognitive functioning and reduced risk for psychopathology? Testing the hormesis hypothesis PSYCHIATRY RESEARCH Oshri, A., Cui, Z., Carvalho, C., Liu, S. 2022; 314: 114644


    Extensive research documents the impact of psychosocial stress on risk for the development of psychiatric symptoms across one's lifespan. Further, evidence exists that cognitive functioning mediates this link. However, a growing body of research suggests that limited stress can result in cognitive benefits that may contribute to resilience. The hypothesis that low-to-moderate levels of stress are linked to more adaptive outcomes has been referred to as hormesis. Using a sample of young adults from the Human Connectome Project (N = 1,206, 54.4% female, Mage = 28.84), the present study aims to test the hormetic effect between low-to-moderate perceived stress and psychopathological symptoms (internalizing and externalizing symptoms), as well as to cross-sectionally explore the intermediate role of cognitive functioning in this effect. Results showed cognitive functioning as a potential intermediating mechanism underlying the curvilinear associations between perceived stress and externalizing, but not internalizing, behaviors. This study provides preliminary support for the benefits of limited stress to the process of human resilience.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.psychres.2022.114644

    View details for Web of Science ID 000827236400002

    View details for PubMedID 35772214

  • The COVID-19 Pandemic Impact on Households of Young Children With Special Healthcare Needs JOURNAL OF PEDIATRIC PSYCHOLOGY Liu, S., Lombardi, J., Fisher, P. A. 2022; 47 (2): 158-170


    This study examined how the COVID-19 pandemic differently affected households of children with versus without special healthcare needs. We compared caregivers' and children's emotional well-being (Aim 1), the utilization of preventive healthcare services for young children (Aim 2), and the promotive effects of social support on well-being outcomes (Aim 3) during the pandemic between the two groups.Data were drawn from an ongoing, large, longitudinal, and national survey that assessed the pandemic impact on households of young children (0-5). Analyses for Aims 1 and 2 were based on 10,572 households, among which 10.96% had children with special healthcare needs. Analyses for Aim 3 were based on a subsample of 821 families, among which 12.54% had children with special healthcare needs.Caregivers of children with special healthcare needs exhibited more emotional distress and reported higher levels of household children's behavioral problems during the pandemic. The percentages of missed preventive healthcare visits and vaccinations were also higher in families of children with special healthcare needs due to structural barriers. Lastly, emotional social support was indirectly related to children's decreased behavioral problems through caregivers' reduced emotional distress, only among households of children without special healthcare needs. In other words, social support alone was not sufficient in promoting caregivers' and children's better well-being outcomes among households of children with special healthcare needs.The pandemic has caused extensive burdens on families of children with special healthcare needs. Actions from policymakers and early intervention service providers are urgently needed to mitigate these impacts.

    View details for DOI 10.1093/jpepsy/jsab135

    View details for Web of Science ID 000754760200005

    View details for PubMedID 34957525

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC8755305

  • Biological sensitivity to context as a dyadic construct: An investigation of child-parent RSA synchrony among low-SES youth DEVELOPMENT AND PSYCHOPATHOLOGY Oshri, A., Liu, S., Suveg, C. M., Caughy, M., Huffman, L. 2021
  • Improving Caregiver Self-Efficacy and Children's Behavioral Outcomes via a Brief Strength-Based Video Coaching Intervention: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial PREVENTION SCIENCE Liu, S., Phu, T., Dominguez, A., Hurwich-Reiss, E., McGee, D., Watamura, S., Fisher, P. 2021


    Many existing preventive intervention programs focus on promoting responsive parenting practices. However, these parenting programs are often long in duration and expensive, and meta-analytic evidence indicates that families facing high levels of adversity typically benefit less. Moreover, due to a lack of specification and evaluation of conceptual models, the mechanisms underlying program-related changes in caregivers and their children often remain unclear. The current study aimed to test the effectiveness of a video feedback parenting intervention program, Filming Interactions to Nurture Development (FIND), in improving caregivers' self-efficacy and reducing children's behavioral problems. Data derived from a randomized controlled trial using pretest-posttest design with low-income families reporting high levels of stress (N = 91, children aged 4 to 36 months old, 41.8% female). Families were randomly assigned to an active control or FIND intervention group. Results indicated that caregivers in the FIND group exhibited significant improvement in self-report sense of parenting competence and self-efficacy in teaching tasks. These program impacts were particularly pronounced among caregivers who experience high levels of childhood adversity. Findings provide preliminary support for the FIND conceptual model. Specifically, caregivers' improved self-efficacy in teaching tasks was linked to children's reduced internalizing and externalizing problems (notably, direct FIND intervention effects on children's behavioral outcomes were not observed). Overall, results support the effectiveness of FIND in enhancing caregivers' sense of parenting competence and potentially promoting optimal child development.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s11121-021-01251-6

    View details for Web of Science ID 000648207700001

    View details for PubMedID 33961176

  • Developmental pathways from child maltreatment to adolescent suicide-related behaviors: The internalizing and externalizing comorbidity hypothesis DEVELOPMENT AND PSYCHOPATHOLOGY Duprey, E., Oshri, A., Liu, S. 2020; 32 (3): 945-959


    Child maltreatment is a robust risk factor for suicidal ideation and behaviors during adolescence. Elevations in internalizing and externalizing symptomology have been identified as two distinct developmental pathways linking child maltreatment and adolescent risk for suicide. However, recent research suggests that the co-occurrence of internalizing and externalizing symptomology may form a distinct etiological pathway for adolescent risk behaviors. Using the Longitudinal Studies on Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN) sample (N = 1,314), the present study employed a person-centered approach to identify patterns of concurrent change in internalizing and externalizing psychopathology over five time points from early childhood to adolescence in relation to previous experiences of child maltreatment and subsequent suicidal ideation and behaviors. Results indicated four distinct bivariate externalizing and internalizing growth trajectories. Group membership in a heightened comorbid internalizing and externalizing symptom trajectory mediated the association between childhood abuse and adolescent suicidal ideation and suicidal behaviors. These findings suggest that the concurrent development of externalizing and internalizing symptoms in childhood and adolescence may constitute a unique developmental trajectory that confers risk for suicide-related outcomes.

    View details for DOI 10.1017/S0954579419000919

    View details for Web of Science ID 000557847000014

    View details for PubMedID 31407646

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7306177

  • Physiological Stress Response Reactivity Mediates the Link Between Emotional Abuse and Youth Internalizing Problems CHILD PSYCHIATRY & HUMAN DEVELOPMENT Duprey, E., Oshri, A., Liu, S., Kogan, S. M., Caughy, M. 2021; 52 (3): 450-463


    Youth who are raised in emotionally abusive families are more likely to have poor mental health outcomes such as depression and anxiety. However, the mechanisms of this association are unclear. The present study utilized a longitudinal sample of low-SES youth (N = 101, MageT1 = 10.24) to examine stress response reactivity (i.e. vagal withdrawal, sympathetic activation, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal [HPA] axis activation) as mediators between emotional abuse and prospective youth internalizing symptoms. Results indicated that blunted HPA reactivity to a laboratory social stress task mediated the association between emotional abuse and youth internalizing symptoms. Emotional abuse was also associated with blunted parasympathetic nervous system activity (i.e. less vagal withdrawal than average). In sum, emotional abuse is a potent risk factor for youth internalizing symptoms, and this link may be mediated via dysregulation in physiological stress response systems. Primary prevention of childhood emotional abuse and secondary prevention programs that target self-regulation skills may reduce rates of youth internalizing symptoms and disorders.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s10578-020-01033-1

    View details for Web of Science ID 000553234900001

    View details for PubMedID 32720015

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7864584

  • Firm parenting and youth adjustment: Stress reactivity and dyadic synchrony of respiratory sinus arrhythmia DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOBIOLOGY Oshri, A., Liu, S., Huffman, L. G., Koss, K. J. 2021; 63 (3): 470-480


    Parental behaviors are potent risk and protective factors for youth development of externalizing problems. Firm control is a parenting strategy that is inconsistently linked to youth adjustment, possibly due to variations in individual biological contexts. Growing research shows that dyadic coregulation of the autonomic nervous system (e.g., parent-child physiological synchrony) is a neurobiological mechanism that links parenting to youth adjustment. However, physiological synchrony may be context-dependent (e.g., adaptive in positive interactions, maladaptive in negative interactions). We aimed to test the role of dyadic synchrony in respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) during parent-child conflict as a mediator between parent firm control and youth's externalizing problems. To capture youth's stress reactivity, we also tested how galvanic skin response reactivity (GSR-R) moderated this indirect path. The sample included 101 dyads of low socioeconomic-status at-risk preadolescents and parents. Results indicated that youth higher levels of GSR-R significantly intensified the link between parent firm control and dyadic RSA synchrony during conflict. Dyadic RSA synchrony further predicted youth increased in externalizing problems. Overall, results suggest that when parents employ firm control parenting with highly reactive teens, dyadic RSA synchrony elevates, potentially modeling less optimal coping with conflict for the youth, which is associated with increased externalizing problems.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/dev.22019

    View details for Web of Science ID 000548863700001

    View details for PubMedID 32677062

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7854988

  • Harsh Parenting and Youth Systemic Inflammation: Modulation by the Autonomic Nervous System HEALTH PSYCHOLOGY Oshri, A., Duprey, E. B., Liu, S., Ehrlich, K. B. 2020; 39 (6): 482-496


    The present study aimed to test the role of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) in modulating the impact of family stress induced by harsh parenting on youths' inflammation. First, we examined the direct effect of severity of adverse parenting behaviors on two serum biomarkers of systemic inflammation (C-reactive protein and interleukin-6) among youth. Second, we tested the moderating role of ANS reactivity in response to laboratory-induced stress in the association between harsh parenting and inflammation among these youth.The sample included 101 low-income children (75.2% African American) between 9 and 12 years of age (Mage = 10.9; SDage = 1.2) who participated in a conflict task with their primary caregiver in a laboratory setting. Heart rate variability reactivity (HRV-R), skin conductance level reactivity (SCL-R), and preejection period reactivity (PEPr-R) were used to index parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system reactivity. Markers of low-grade inflammation (C-reactive protein and interleukin-6) were obtained from serum.After adjusting for confounding variables, ANS activity moderated the associations between family stress and systemic inflammation. Specifically, elevated HRV-R buffered the effect of family stress on youths' inflammation, whereas elevated PEPr-R and SCL-R exacerbated the effect.These findings show that self-regulatory capacity and threat sensitivity, as indicated by ANS function, may have an impact on the associations between family stress and systemic inflammation. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

    View details for DOI 10.1037/hea0000852

    View details for Web of Science ID 000529373500002

    View details for PubMedID 32202827

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7269122

  • Child Maltreatment and Resilience: The Promotive and Protective Role of Future Orientation JOURNAL OF YOUTH AND ADOLESCENCE Cui, Z., Oshri, A., Liu, S., Smith, E. P., Kogan, S. M. 2020; 49 (10): 2075-2089


    Maltreatment is associated with risk for a wide range of socio-emotional and behavioral problems in adolescence. Despite this risk, many maltreated youth adjust well through the process of resilience. Extant research demonstrates that future orientation is linked to reduced risks for maladjustment in adolescence. Few studies, however, have tested the protective and promotive role of future orientation using positive and negative developmental outcomes among maltreated youth. The present study aimed to investigate the promotive and moderating role of future orientation among a longitudinal sample of maltreated and demographically comparable non-maltreated youth (N = 1354, 51.5% female, 53.2% African American). Data collected from Time 1 (Mage = 4.56, SDage = 0.70) to Time 8 (Mage = 18.514, SDage = 0.615) were used. Compared to the non-maltreated youth, maltreated youth showed increased delinquent behaviors and reduced self-esteem. In addition, future orientation significantly predicted higher levels of social competence and attenuated the adverse effects of maltreatment on youth delinquency and substance use. The findings highlight the role of future orientation in the development of resilience among maltreated youth, bearing significant contributions to prevention and intervention programs designed to protect youth against risks linked to child maltreatment and promote their positive development.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s10964-020-01227-9

    View details for Web of Science ID 000522695500001

    View details for PubMedID 32236791

  • Heart Rate Variability Reactivity Moderates the Indirect Link Between Child Maltreatment and Young Adult Alcohol Use Problems Via Depressive Symptoms AMERICAN JOURNAL ON ADDICTIONS Liu, S., Oshri, A., Duprey, E. B. 2020; 29 (2): 141-150


    Young adults with childhood maltreatment (CM) histories are particularly vulnerable to depressive symptoms and alcohol use problems. Research suggests that maltreated youth may misuse alcohol in part to alleviate depressive symptoms. However, many youths with depressive symptoms exercise self-control and abstain from heavy alcohol use. The present study aimed to examine the influence of heart rate variability reactivity (HRV-R), a psychophysiological biomarker of self-regulation, in the indirect link between CM and alcohol-use problems via depressive symptoms among low socioeconomic-status rural young adults.Two waves of data were collected from a community sample of 225 low socioeconomic-status nonmetropolitan young adults (Mage  = 21.56, 52.9% female). HRV data were obtained with an electrocardiogram during a social stress task. CM was assessed through the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. Alcohol use problems were measured using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test.The indirect effect of CM on alcohol use problems via elevated depressive symptoms was positive and significant (α × β = .159, P < .001). Self-regulation, indicated by high HRV-R (ie, vagal withdrawal), was found to significantly buffer the link between depressive symptoms and alcohol use problems (β = .193, P = .022).Adequate self-regulation capacities can protect maltreated youths from self-medicating alcohol use problems.This study will advance researchers' understanding of the development of alcohol use problems through unwrapping the risk and protective mechanisms underlying the association between young adults' early life stress and alcohol use behaviors. (Am J Addict 2020;29:141-150).

    View details for DOI 10.1111/ajad.13004

    View details for Web of Science ID 000512942200001

    View details for PubMedID 32052526

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7236811

  • Adverse parenting is indirectly linked to delayed reward discounting via blunted RSA reactivity: the protective role of a shift-and-persist coping strategy. Adversity and Resilience Science Liu, S., Cui, Z., Duprey, E. B., Kogan, S. M., Oshri, A. 2020; 1 (3): 149-163
  • Child Abuse and Neglect, Callous-Unemotional Traits, and Substance Use Problems: the Moderating Role of Stress Response Reactivity JOURNAL OF CHILD & ADOLESCENT TRAUMA Oshri, A., Carlson, M., Duprey, E., Liu, S., Huffman, L., Kogan, S. M. 2020; 13 (4): 389-398


    Young adults who experienced child abuse and neglect (CAN) are at significant risk for callous-unemotional traits and substance use problems. Research shows that compromised self-regulation may increase risk for these maladaptive outcomes. In the present cross-sectional study, we examined the moderating role of self-regulation, indexed by heart rate variability reactivity, in the indirect link between CAN and alcohol and other drug use problems via callous-unemotional traits. We utilized a sample of mostly female undergraduate students (N = 130, 81% Female; M age  = 20.72). We hypothesized that (a) CAN and alcohol or other drug use problems would be associated indirectly via elevations in callous-unemotional traits, and (b) that this indirect association would be exacerbated by elevated heart rate variability reactivity. Results indicated that increased callous-unemotional traits underlain in the link between CAN and alcohol or other drug use problems. Further, this indirect link was exacerbated among youth with elevated heart rate variability reactivity. These findings have significant implications for prevention by demonstrating that physiological self-regulation is important to target in substance use prevention among collegiate samples.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s40653-019-00291-z

    View details for Web of Science ID 000589412700001

    View details for PubMedID 33269039

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7683688

  • The Mediating Role of Neural Activity on the Relationship Between Childhood Maltreatment and Impulsivity CHILD MALTREATMENT Hallowell, E. S., Oshri, A., Liebel, S. W., Liu, S., Duda, B., Clark, U. S., Sweet, L. H. 2019; 24 (4): 389-399


    Child maltreatment is associated with a variety of risk behaviors in young adulthood; however, the underlying cognitive and neural mechanisms of this relation are not well understood. The primary aim of the present study was to examine the direct and indirect effects between maltreatment in childhood and downstream impulsivity via neural activity during a cognitive task. In a sample of emerging adult women from the rural southeastern United States, childhood abuse and neglect were assessed using the childhood trauma questionnaire. Outcome measures of neural activity during a functional magnetic resonance imaging N-back verbal working memory (WM) task and trait impulsivity on the Impulsive Behavior Scale were assessed approximately 1 year later. Results indicate that adults with higher levels of reported childhood maltreatment demonstrate worse behavioral performance and lower neural response during a difficult verbal WM task. Furthermore, neural activity significantly mediated the relation between abuse and neglect in childhood and trait impulsivity. These new findings demonstrate an association between neurocognitive functioning and reported childhood abuse and neglect, and indicate that such changes may underlie the relation between maltreatment and trait-level impulsivity.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/1077559519835975

    View details for Web of Science ID 000492405900006

    View details for PubMedID 30917694

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6764908

  • Adverse Childhood Experiences and Amygdalar Reduction: High-Resolution Segmentation Reveals Associations With Subnuclei and Psychiatric Outcomes CHILD MALTREATMENT Oshri, A., Gray, J. C., Owens, M. M., Liu, S., Duprey, E., Sweet, L. H., MacKillop, J. 2019; 24 (4): 400-410


    The aim of the present study was 2-fold: (1) to utilize improved amygdala segmentation and exploratory factor analysis to characterize the latent volumetric structure among amygdala nuclei and (2) to assess the effect of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on amygdalar morphometry and current psychiatric symptoms. To investigate these aims, structural (T1) MRI and self-report data were obtained from 119 emerging adults. Regression analysis showed that higher ACE scores were related to reduced volume of the right, but not the left, amygdalar segments. Further, exploratory factor analysis yielded a two-factor structure, basolateral and central-medial nuclei of the right amygdala. Stractual equation modeling analyses revealed that higher ACE scores were significantly related to a reduced volume of the right basolateral and central-medial segments. Furthermore, reduction in the right basolateral amygdala was associated with increased anxiety, depressive symptoms, and alcohol use. This association supports an indirect effect between early adversity and psychiatric problems via reduced right basolateral amygdalar volume. The high-resolution segmentation results reveal a latent structure among amygdalar nuclei, which is consistent with prior work conducted in nonhuman mammals. These findings extend previous reports linking early adversity, right amygdala volume, and psychopathology.

    View details for DOI 10.1177/1077559519839491

    View details for Web of Science ID 000492405900007

    View details for PubMedID 31030539

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6813855

  • Socioeconomic hardship and delayed reward discounting: Associations with working memory and emotional reactivity DEVELOPMENTAL COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE Oshri, A., Hallowell, E., Liu, S., MacKillop, J., Galvan, A., Kogan, S. M., Sweet, L. H. 2019; 37: 100642


    Prolonged exposure to socioeconomic hardship (SH) is associated with greater delayed reward discounting (DRD), a form of impulsive decision-making that reflects a reduced capacity to delay gratification and a significant correlate of diverse risk behaviors, but the neurobehavioral mechanisms linking SH and DRD are unknown. An emerging hypothesis suggests that cognitive and affective stress associated with poverty may tax neurocognitive functions, such as working memory (WM), and lead to impulsive DRD. Furthermore, research suggests that emotional reactivity (ER) is an important dispositional factor to consider in the link between executive functions and DRD. Thus, we longitudinally examined the indirect effect of SH on impulsive DRD via a network of brain regions associated with WM function in a sample of young adults, and whether that link was moderated by ER. Participants were 119 rural African Americans (aged 19-24 years) assessed behaviorally on four occasions, with fMRI at the last time point. Results showed that, among emerging adults with higher ER, SH severity was predictive of increased DRD via reduced response in brain regions activated during an n-back WM task. These findings reveal both the cognitive and affective mechanisms that underlie the relationship between SH and DRD.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.dcn.2019.100642

    View details for Web of Science ID 000468888500014

    View details for PubMedID 31004982

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6546101

  • Childhood Maltreatment, Self-esteem, and Suicidal Ideation in a Low-SES Emerging Adult Sample: The Moderating Role of Heart Rate Variability ARCHIVES OF SUICIDE RESEARCH Duprey, E., Oshri, A., Liu, S. 2019; 23 (2): 333-352


    Childhood maltreatment is associated with risk for suicidal ideation later in life, yet more research is needed on the indirect effects and bioregulatory protective factors in this association. The present study aimed to investigate the indirect influence of childhood maltreatment on suicidal ideation in emerging adulthood via level of self-esteem, and examine the moderating role of heart rate variability (HRV; a proxy for emotion regulation) in this indirect association. The study included a sample of 167 non-metropolitan emerging adults (Mage = 21.17, 55.8% female) of low-socioeconomic status (low-SES). HRV data were obained using an electrocardigram, whereas childhood maltreatment, suicidal ideation, and self-esteem data were obtained via self-report. Childhood maltreatment was indirectly associated with suicidal ideation via reduced self-esteem. HRV buffered this indirect association. Childhood maltreatment poses a risk for the development of suicidal ideation. Interventions that bolster self-esteem and emotion regulation may reduce suicide risk for emerging adults with a history of childhood maltreatment.

    View details for DOI 10.1080/13811118.2018.1430640

    View details for Web of Science ID 000467883800010

    View details for PubMedID 29466117

  • Child Maltreatment, Delayed Reward Discounting, and Alcohol and Other Drug Use Problems: The Moderating Role of Heart Rate Variability ALCOHOLISM-CLINICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH Oshri, A., Liu, S., Duprey, E., MacKillop, J. 2018; 42 (10): 2033-2046


    Child maltreatment (CM) is robustly associated with youth risk for addictive behaviors, and recent findings suggest that this may be mediated through impulsive discounting of future rewards. However, research indicates that youth self-regulation (emotional and cognitive), particularly in peer contexts, is critical to consider in the study of decision making. This study aimed to examine the indirect link between CM and alcohol and other drug use problems, through delayed reward discounting (DRD), among a community sample of emerging adults. Further, this investigation aimed to examine whether this indirect link was moderated by heart rate variability (HRV), a physiological proxy for regulation of stress reactivity.A sample of emerging adults (N = 225; Mage  = 21.56; SDage  = 2.24; 52.9% female) was assessed at 2 time points, with 1 year between assessments. The sample was comprised of rural emerging adults from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. DRD was examined using a monetary choice task, and HRV reactivity was derived during a social stress task.Increased CM experiences were significantly linked to riskier DRD. HRV reactivity amplified the indirect effect between CM and alcohol use problems via riskier DRD.The results demonstrate that the connection between CM and alcohol use problems via impulsive decision making is modulated by acute stress response reactivity, as indexed by HRV.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/acer.13858

    View details for Web of Science ID 000446007200020

    View details for PubMedID 30152855

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6584053

  • Growth Patterns of Future Orientation Among Maltreated Youth: A Prospective Examination of the Emergence of Resilience DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY Oshri, A., Duprey, E. B., Kogan, S. M., Carlson, M. W., Liu, S. 2018; 54 (8): 1456-1471


    During adolescence, a positive outlook toward the future (i.e., future orientation) can protect youth from the risks conferred by childhood adversity. Research to date, however, has largely considered future orientation as a static attribute. Developmental systems perspectives suggest that future orientation, when considered across time, will exhibit dynamic trajectories with levels changing in response to the varying balance of risks and resources in youths' environments. Investigating the developmental course and consequences of future orientation is particularly germane to maltreated youth who may benefit from programs that target this protective mechanism. The present study tested hypotheses regarding the developmental course of future orientation, including the association of distinct future orientation trajectories with time-varying risk factors and resources, and the association of continuity and change in future orientation trajectories with young adult psychosocial functioning. Hypotheses were investigated with longitudinal (T1 Mage = 12.22, T2 Mage = 13.52, T3 Mage = 14.79, T4 Mage = 18.54), multireporter data from a nationally representative sample of maltreated youth (N = 1,461). Growth mixture modeling (GMM) identified three classes of growth trajectories in future orientation: high-persistent, low start/increasing, and high start/decreasing. Time-variant and -invariant risk factors and resources differentiated youths' future orientation trajectories. Youth in the high-persistent and low start/increasing trajectories were more likely to attain young adulthood developmental milestones-including independent living skills, social capital, employment, and higher weekly income. This study documents how an important component of resilient adaptation emerges and promotes positive outcomes among highly vulnerable youth. (PsycINFO Database Record

    View details for DOI 10.1037/dev0000528

    View details for Web of Science ID 000439918200006

    View details for PubMedID 29952602

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6546100

  • Alcohol Use and Depressive Symptoms Among a Nationally Representative Sample of Youth Investigated for Maltreatment JOURNAL OF STUDIES ON ALCOHOL AND DRUGS Liu, S., Oshri, A., Duprey, E. B. 2018; 79 (3): 380-390


    The relationships between depressive symptoms and alcohol use among maltreated youth have been well documented. However, the direction of these associations remains unclear. Two prevalent but contrasting perspectives on these associations-the self-medication and impaired-functioning hypotheses-have each received extensive support. The present study aims to test these hypotheses and to reconcile these theoretical and empirical inconsistencies by advancing a third integrative conceptualization, the bidirectional hypothesis, which considers developmental timing in the transactional associations between maltreated youth's depressive symptoms and alcohol use over time.Data were drawn from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being II, a longitudinal, nationally representative sample of youth involved with Child Protective Services because they have been maltreated. The current study included data from 657 youth followed over three equidistant time points for 3 years. Youth were aged 11-14 years at the first time point, with 52.7% female and 51.4% White.Autoregressive analyses within a structural equation modeling framework supported the impaired-functioning hypothesis during early adolescence and the self-medication hypothesis during mid- to late adolescence. The data were consistent with the bidirectional hypothesis in which depressive symptoms and alcohol use differentially predicted each other depending on the stage of adolescence.The bidirectional associations between alcohol use and depressive symptoms are influenced by developmental timing. Researchers should consider age when tailoring prevention programs that target maltreated youth. Depressive symptoms should be screened early and frequently to prevent adolescent substance use.

    View details for DOI 10.15288/jsad.2018.79.380

    View details for Web of Science ID 000435473100008

    View details for PubMedID 29885145

  • Pathways Linking Adverse Childhood Experiences to Cigarette Smoking Among Young Black Men: a Prospective Analysis of the Role of Sleep Problems and Delayed Reward Discounting ANNALS OF BEHAVIORAL MEDICINE Oshri, A., Kogan, S., Liu, S., Sweet, L., Mackillop, J. 2017; 51 (6): 890-898


    African American men experience increases in smoking during the young adult transition. Exposure to childhood adversity, a risk factor which disproportionately affects African American men, has been identified as a robust precursor to health risk behavior in general and cigarette smoking in particular. The intermediate mechanisms that transmit the influence of early adversity to smoking behavior are not well understood.We tested a model of the escalation of smoking behaviors among young adult African American men, investigating sleep disturbance and delayed reward discounting as intermediate factors linking adverse childhood experiences with smoking.Hypotheses were tested with three waves of data (M age-T1 = 20.34, M age-T2 = 21.92, M age-T3 = 23.02) from 505 African American men living in rural counties in South Georgia. Men provided self-report data on their adverse childhood experiences, sleep problems, and smoking behavior using audio-assisted computer self-interviews. Men also completed a computer-based delayed reward discounting task.Structural equation modeling analyses supported our hypotheses: Adverse childhood experiences predicted poor sleep adequacy, which forecast increases in delayed reward discounting; discounting, in turn, predicted increased smoking. Significant indirect pathways were detected linking adversity to discounting via sleep adequacy and linking sleep adequacy to smoking via discounting.Prevention and intervention researchers can draw on these findings to develop programs that focus on sleep adequacy to reduce smoking in African American men exposed to childhood adversity.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s12160-017-9914-0

    View details for Web of Science ID 000412733700010

    View details for PubMedID 28500481

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5682237