An Examination of Cultural and Cognitive Mechanisms Facilitating Positive Youth Development in American Indian Communities

How does environmental strain and cultural engagement influence American Indian children’s abilities to self-regulate their attentions and behaviors?

Tsethlikai will examine the influence of environmental strain (i.e., neighborhood poverty and violence, poor housing quality) on American Indian children’s developing abilities to monitor, control, and disengage their attention and to process multiple sources of information skillfully. She also plans to explore how cultural engagement influences the development of these basic cognitive skills directly and whether it serves a protective function against the negative influences of environmental strain on such development. Tsethlikai will develop new skills in studying biological reactivity to stress and in qualitative methods with help from Mark Laudenslager, professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado, Denver’s School of Medicine, and Lisa Diamond, professor of psychology at the University of Utah.

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