En opdagelse som Davidson selv opfatter som "fødslen" af forskningsdiciplinen "affectiv neuroscience".
I destinctly remember the excitement I felt when I saw the brain correlates of positive and negative emotions. The fact that the acitivity occured not in the brain stem and limbic system - primitive regions tht have no role in cognition - but in the exaltede prefrontal cortex gave me an inkling that we were going to make waves in the scientific community.
Fortunately for us, the babies were not exactly creative in how they responded to their mother´s departure. They either began wailing almost immediatly or apperared very curious and looked around the room with little sign of distress. The measures of baseline brain activity predicted these responses perfectly. The distraught, crying infants had higher baseline levels of right prefontal activation than did the infants who took their abandoment in the stride. This convinced me that baseline measures of brain acitivity werer reflecting somethin real enouhgt to translate in behavioral differences.
shyness, sociability, emotionality, tendency to experience stress, adaptability, impulsivity, and the balance of positive and negative emotions.
This was not what I had expected. Measures of brain and behavior at age three did not predict what the kids wer lige at age nine. For the majority, who they were at three - and what their brains was at threee - was very different from who they were at nine. This was the first challange to my own assumptions about the stability of traits that have a genetic basis, and it spurred my thinking about the plasticity of the human brain. (...)That´s what the old model said: that people can slap an overlay of learning or socialization on their basic temperament, but that the inate shyness or boldness would stille be there. But we found that the brain had changed. (...). For two thirds of the kids, the whole system - brain, physiology, temperament, and behavior - changed.
Will, our fear-frozen toddler, had an outgoing yonger sister and also was lucky to have tearchers who nurtured his sociability. While he did not become an extremely outgoing child by age nine, he moved squarely into the middle of the distribution. Sam´s dad developed cancer, for which he was hospitalized twice, when Sam was five and seven. This adversity understandable took a toll on the family, which may have played a role in moving Sam from being one of the most outgoing and social in our samble to the large clump of children in the middle.Allthoug neither Will nor Sam moved from one extreme to the other, they each moved closer to the center from their respctive extremes of behavioral inhibition and lack of inhibition. About half the children moved in the other direction, form the center to toward one extreme or the other. And some childen did move from one on end of the spectrum and to the other. At age three, Shawn was one of our least ihibited toddlers, (...). But when Shawn was eight, his father unexpectedly died of cancer. Whe we saw Shawn at nine, he was a changed child. He froze in the presence of strangers and wouldn´t play with a single thing in the risk room. He had become one of the most inhibited children i n our study.