Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 99–106 | Cite as

Attention Processes Underlying Risk and Resilience in Behaviorally Inhibited Children

  • Heather A. HendersonEmail author
  • McLennon J.G. Wilson
Child and Developmental Psychiatry (K Fitzgerald, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Child and Developmental Psychiatry


Purpose of Review

We briefly review the literature on behavioral inhibition (BI) in childhood and its associated social and emotional outcomes. We review the interplay of automatic and controlled attention processes in BI children and outline the relations between childhood BI and two components of effortful control (EC): response inhibition and attention switching.

Recent Findings

Contemporary research in cognitive and behavioral neuroscience indicates that components of EC differentially impact developmental risk for BI children. Response inhibition may inflate the risk of anxiety issues by promoting the inefficient deployment of attentional resources in social contexts, while attention shifting may serve as a protective factor by supporting dynamic social information processing.


The attentional processes subsumed under EC have diverse implications for the developmental trajectory of BI. Further research is necessary to identify the exact mechanisms by which the components of EC affect the manifestation of BI across development, and how this knowledge can guide early intervention efforts.


Behavioral inhibition Executive attention Effortful control Response inhibition Attention shifting Affective flexibility 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Dr. Heather Henderson declares grants from Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Grant number: 435-2016-0494). McLennon Wilson declares that he has no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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