The Emotional World of Infants

For July 11, 2018    

Hi WN@TL Fans,

My personal sample size is pretty small—two kids of my own, plus about a dozen nieces and nephews I’ve known since they were born—so I will stake no claims to deep insights into this week’s topic:  the emotional world of infants.

I will venture to say that when it comes to emotions, the infants seem to subscribe to the Annie Oakley School of Ethel Mermanisms:  anything adults can do, infants can do better.

Moreover, their emotions trump ours, especially in the wee hours, as I recall.  As if I can recall.

Here’s how Elizabeth Planalp of the Waisman Center describes her talk, entitled “Mixed Emotions: A Peek Into the Emotional World of Infants.”

Infants learn to navigate the world through repeated interactions with caregivers and their environment. The first two years of life are pivotal in terms of early brain and behavioral development and early life experiences can have long-term effects on physical and psychological flourishing.

Initially, infants rely on caregivers to guide their emotional and regulatory responses, yet even as early as six months of age they begin to learn to regulate such responses themselves. I will discuss a series of studies which elucidate potential mechanisms in the development of infant emotional and regulatory development.

First, emotion regulation can be a mediator linking early experiences with later child outcomes. Second, I will discuss the role parents have on emerging regulatory capacities as well as potential neural mechanisms at play. Finally, positive affect, an often-neglected component of emotion research, is also a developmental construct emerging early in infancy. Results from each of these sections reveal complex processes underlying emotional development in infancy and early childhood.

About the Speaker

Dr. Planalp’s work investigates developmental trajectories of individual differences in infant and early childhood emotional expression and regulation. She applies family systems theories to examine how infants and young children express and regulate their emotions as well as how the family environment impacts children’s emotional development. Further, she is interested in probing differences between mothers’ and fathers’ interactions with their infants. Using advanced statistical and neuroimaging techniques, her work spans developmental, clinical, and neuro/affective areas of psychology and human development.


Next week (July 18) from Wisconsin, the Land Flowing in Milk and Honey, comes the history & current status of machines to take the drudge outa milking the cows.  Doug Reinemann of Biological Systems Engineering covers the last hundred years of dairy ingenuity, from buckets to robots.


Our stainless steel cup runneth over.

Hope to see you soon at Wednesday Nite @ The Lab.

Tom Zinnen
Biotechnology Center & Cooperative Extension