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Eddies in Attention and Stress

Who’s Eddy? He (or she!) is a weather formation. Which is being used as a metaphor. The abstract is below. The full paper “Allostasis and metastasis: the yin and yang of childhood self-regulation” describing these eddies in attention and stress is here.

Eddies in attention similar to eddies in weather currents

Allostasis and metastasis: the yin and yang of childhood self-regulation

Most research has studied self-regulation by presenting experimenter-controlled test stimuli and measuring change between a baseline period and the stimulus. But in the real world we are not passive recipients of discrete chunks of external stimulation, to which we in turn respond; rather, the real world is continuous and we self-regulate by adaptively selecting which aspects of the social environment that we attend to from one moment to the next.

Here, we contrast two dynamic processes that guide this process – the ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ of self-regulation. First, allostasis, through which we dynamically compensate for change to maintain homeostasis. This involves upregulating in some situations and downregulating in others. And second, metastasis, the dynamical principle underling dysregulation. Through metastasis, small initial fluctuations can become progressively amplified over time.

We contrast these processes at the individual level (i.e. by examining moment-to-moment change in one child, considered independently) and also at the inter-personal level (i.e. by examining change across a dyad, such as a parent-child dyad). Finally, we discuss practical implications of this approach in improving the self-regulation of emotion and cognition, in typical development and psychopathology.

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