Why do some children develop anxiety while others do not? Behaviorally inhibited temperament is a strong risk factor for pediatric anxiety disorders, but not all children with behavioral inhibition develop anxiety. Identifying risk and protective factors in children with behavioral inhibition could improve early detection and prevention of anxiety disorders. I will focus on early adolescence, a pivotal developmental period for social and neural changes as well as for the development of anxiety. Notably, these changes unfold differently in boys and girls, which could influence risk for anxiety in sex-specific ways, thereby creating a female preponderance of anxiety. The goal of this study is to identify social and neural moderators of the temperament-anxiety association in boys and girls. This fellowship will be embedded in the Generation R Study at Erasmus University Rotterdam, a unique interdisciplinary prospective cohort following 1232 children since birth. Data on temperament (at 3 years), social and neural factors (from 7-13 years), and anxiety symptoms (at 13 years) have been collected. I will study social and neural factors in a novel way by focusing on multi-informant measures of peer relations, multi-modal quantification of in-lab social behavior, and developmental trajectories of resting-state functional connectivity. The large sample size provides the unique opportunity to examine sex differences. This fellowship will allow me to bring the knowledge and skills I acquired in the USA to the Netherlands. I will expand my line of research to include social and protective factors, longitudinal resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data, and epidemiological methods. I will learn how to foster a strong mutual connection between research and clinical practice. Finally, I will systematically set up outreach activities, especially for children, to bridge science and society. Together, this enhances my long-term career success in academia.
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