[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent research on risky decision-making in adults has shown that both the risk in potential outcomes and their valence (i.e., whether those outcomes involve gains or losses) exert dissociable influences on decisions. We hypothesised that the influences of these two crucial decision variables (risk and valence) on decision-making would vary developmentally during adolescence. We adapted a risk-taking paradigm that provides precise metrics for the impacts of risk and valence. Decision-making in 11-16 year old female adolescents was influenced by both risk and valence. However, their influences assumed different developmental patterns: the impact of valence diminished with age, while there was no developmental change in the impact of risk. These different developmental patterns provide further evidence that risk and valence are fundamentally dissociable constructs and have different influences on decisions across adolescence.
Cognitive Development 07/2013; 28(3):290-299. · 1.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Introspection, or metacognition, is the capacity to reflect on our own thoughts and behaviours. Here, we investigated how one specific metacognitive ability (the relationship between task performance and confidence) develops in adolescence, a period of life associated with the emergence of self-concept and enhanced self-awareness. We employed a task that dissociates objective performance on a visual task from metacognitive ability in a group of 56 participants aged between 11 and 41years. Metacognitive ability improved significantly with age during adolescence, was highest in late adolescence and plateaued going into adulthood. Our results suggest that awareness of one's own perceptual decisions shows a prolonged developmental trajectory during adolescence.
Consciousness and Cognition 01/2013; 22(1):264-271. · 2.31 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adolescence is characterized by making risky decisions. Early lesion and neuroimaging studies in adults pointed to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and related structures as having a key role in decision-making. More recent studies have fractionated decision-making processes into its various components, including the representation of value, response selection (including inter-temporal choice and cognitive control), associative learning, and affective and social aspects. These different aspects of decision-making have been the focus of investigation in recent studies of the adolescent brain. Evidence points to a dissociation between the relatively slow, linear development of impulse control and response inhibition during adolescence versus the nonlinear development of the reward system, which is often hyper-responsive to rewards in adolescence. This suggests that decision-making in adolescence may be particularly modulated by emotion and social factors, for example, when adolescents are with peers or in other affective ('hot') contexts.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The brain has evolved to understand and interact with other people. We are increasingly learning more about the neurophysiological basis of social cognition and what is known as the social brain, that is the network of brain regions involved in understanding others. This paper focuses on how the social brain develops during adolescence. Adolescence is a time characterized by change - hormonally, physically, psychologically and socially. Yet until recently this period of life was neglected by cognitive neuroscience. In the past decade, research has shown that the brain develops both structurally and functionally during adolescence. Large-scale structural MRI studies have demonstrated development during adolescence in white matter and grey matter volumes in regions within the social brain. Activity in some of these regions, as measured using fMRI, also shows changes between adolescence and adulthood during social cognition tasks. I will also present evidence that theory of mind usage is still developing late in adolescence. Finally, I will speculate on potential implications of this research for society.
Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine 03/2012; 105(3):111-6. · 1.72 Impact Factor