Professor Linda Gilkerson is coinvestigator, with principal investigator Stephen Porges, Ph.D., of the University of Illinois at Chicago, on an NIH-funded grant to look at the neurodevelopment of infants and young children. The project assesses infants who persist in excessive crying and will follow the children and their families until two years of age.

This quasi-experimental longitudinal study (N = 149) consists of four groups: never cried excessively (N = 74), excessively cried until 3 months of age (N = 33), excessively cried until 6 months of age (N = 22), and excessively cried past 6 months of age (N = 20).

From 6 weeks to 24 months of age, the families complete questionnaires and participate in developmental assessments while the infant’s physiological response (i.e., vagal tone) is monitored at the Brain-Body Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Some of the factors that will be examined in relation to infant crying and physiological response include parenting stress, maternal depression, parenting self-efficacy, child temperament, and multiple aspects of the child’s behavior and development.

The main research questions are the following:
1) Is infant crying related to the infant’s physiological response?
2) Does infant crying and/or physiological response predict developmental outcome?
3) What other factors are related to infant crying?