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Adolescence has long been considered a turbulent time; beginning with large changes in hormonal levels and consequent bodily changes, as well as changes in behavior. Recently, neuroscience studies have contributed to this picture of turbulence. We now know that the brain undergoes profound transformation during the teenage years. This paper focuses on how the social brain--the network of brain regions involved in understanding other people and self-awareness--develops during adolescence.
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The Development of Adolescent
Social Cognition
Stephanie Burnett and Sarah-Jayne Blakemore
University College London, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, London, United Kingdom
Adolescence has long been considered a turbulent time; beginning with large changes in
hormonal levels and consequent bodily changes, as well as changes in behavior. Recently,
neuroscience studies have contributed to this picture of turbulence. We now know that
the brain undergoes profound transformation during the teenage years. This paper
focuses on how the social brain—the network of brain regions involved in understanding
other people and self-awareness—develops during adolescence.
Key words: adolescence; social brain; development
Adolescence is defined in humans as the
period of psychological and social transition
between childhood and adulthood. The begin-
ning of adolescence, around the onset of pu-
berty, is characterized by dramatic changes in
hormone levels and, as a result, in physical ap-
pearance. This period of life is also character-
ized by the continued development of social
abilities and behavior as well as neuroanatom-
ical maturation within regions of the brain in-
volved in social cognition.1Recent advances in
cognitive neuroscience are allowing us to begin
to probe the links between unfolding adoles-
cent social cognition and its physical basis in
the brain.
Milestones in Social Ability
from Birth to Adulthood
Human social preferences are apparent at a
very early age. At only a few weeks after birth,
infants direct more smiles toward their care-
giver and other humans than at inanimate ob-
jects, indicating that they differentiate between
Address for correspondence: Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, UCL Institute
of Cognitive Neuroscience, 17 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AR, UK.
Voice: 0044 20 7679 1131.
social and nonsocial beings. From around 1
year, infants deliberately engage and redirect
the attention of their caregiver by pointing or
vocalizing. By about 2.5 years, children im-
plement complex social tactics, such as teas-
ing, lying, and saving face (bravado).2Over the
next few years, individuals learn to use these
social tactics flexibly in different social situa-
tions. For example, children aged 5 or 6 can
use deception to protect other people’s feelings
(telling “white” lies) in contrast to younger chil-
dren who mainly use deception for self-serving
reasons (e.g., to avoid punishment). A grow-
ing understanding of the self-conscious emo-
tions (such as embarrassment, guilt, and pride)
at around the same age indicates that chil-
dren are beginning to explicitly take other peo-
ple’s feelings into account in their emotional
reactions to situations.3By middle childhood,
concepts of fairness and justice show through
in an emerging tendency to share resources
The understanding of how social abilities de-
velop during late childhood and adolescence is
much less complete. Although social psychol-
ogy research on adolescence has been fruitful
since the 1970s,5research into adolescent so-
cial cognitive development, that is, the compo-
nent mental processes that underlie complex
social behaviors, is comparatively younger.69
However, accumulating evidence points to the
Values, Empathy, and Fairness across Social Barriers: Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 1167: 51–56 (2009).
doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04509.x c
2009 New York Academy of Sciences.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
continuing development of the ability to read
emotion in faces and of proficiency in taking
on other emotional perspectives (stepping into
someone else’s shoes).1
Another important social ability, the abil-
ity to sometimes decide to ignore what others
think you should do (resisting peer influence),
unfolds during the adolescent years. Steinberg
and Monahan conducted a large study in which
3600 male and female children, adolescents,
and adults completed a questionnaire asking
how likely they would be to do a variety of good,
bad, or neutral actions based on whether other
people were doing the same. It was found that
self-reported resistance to peer influence (RPI)
increased steadily between the middle and late
teens (ages 14 to 18).10 Another study was con-
ducted by Gardner and Steinberg to look at
the effects of developing RPI on risk-taking be-
havior. A laboratory study was conducted in
which adolescents (aged 13–16), youths (aged
18–22), and adults (24+) played a car-driving
video game either alone or with two friends
present.11 It was found that in the presence of
friends the adolescents (and to a lesser extent
the youths) took many more risks while driving,
for example, failing to stop at a yellow traffic
light. Levels of risk taking did not increase for
adult participants if their friends were watch-
ing, and when adolescents were playing alone
they showed the same level of risk taking as
did adults. Recently, it has been shown that
this laboratory game has parallels in real life.
The Association of British Insurers reported in
2008 that teenagers are three times more likely
to have a fatal crash when driving with peers
compared to when driving alone.12
The onset of adolescence also marks a
change in patterns of social behavior. Teenagers
begin to enjoy the company of their friends
more and to spend more time with them (and
consequently less time with their families). Dur-
ing the time spent together, teenagers begin
to share their worries, secrets, and ambitions
more than they did as children. A more fully
integrated social identity emerges, with partici-
pation in relationships at different levels—from
intimate friendships and romantic attachments,
to semiflexible cliques of less than 10 members,
to large crowds of individuals who share distinct
fashions and interests but are not necessarily all
individually acquainted.13 At the end of ado-
lescence, an individual is expected to emerge
as a socially capable adult.
Brain Development during
Until relatively recently, it was widely held
that the brain was anatomically mature early in
life. A small number of studies published in the
late 1960s and 1970s, using post-mortem brain
samples,14,15 suggested that the brain contin-
ues to develop during adolescence. However,
it was generally assumed that changes in so-
cial behavior during the teens were a result of
hormones, social experience, and the chang-
ing social environment. These factors are un-
doubtedly important. However, neuroanatom-
ical development, which occurs throughout the
teenaged years, may also play a role.
Results from large magnetic resonance imag-
ing (MRI) studies looking at brain development
across the lifespan indicate that brain regions
involved in social cognition undergo protracted
development throughout adolescence.1619 In
the frontal and parietal lobes, gray matter in-
creases in volume during childhood, reaching
its peak at around puberty onset. This is fol-
lowed by gray matter thinning during the re-
mainder of adolescence. This is in contrast to
basic sensory regions of the brain in which peak
gray matter volume is attained during child-
hood (for reviews, see refs. 1 and 20). It has
been suggested that the regional increases in
gray matter volume up to and around puberty
are a result of synaptic proliferation (synapto-
genesis) and that subsequent gray matter thin-
ning reflects the elimination or “pruning” of
synapses, as has been observed in post-mortem
brain samples.15,21,22 These changes would be
expected to result in more finely tuned neu-
ral circuits, which will respond optimally to the
Burnett & Blakemore: Adolescent Social Cognition
task in hand. Among the brain regions that
undergo these changes in gray matter volume
during the adolescent years is the prefrontal
cortex, a region involved in higher cognitive
abilities, including social cognition and the
planned control of behavior. This suggests that
the high-level abilities subsumed by these late-
maturing regions may continue to develop dur-
ing the adolescent years.
Another major neuroanatomical change that
has been observed using MRI is a linear in-
crease in white matter volume, which occurs
across the brain throughout childhood and ado-
lescence (and, indeed, into the 20s). This in-
crease in white matter volume is thought to
reflect ongoing maturation of neuronal axons,
for example, myelination and/or increasing ax-
onal caliber.14,23,20 These processes might be
expected to result in faster and more efficient
neuronal signaling.
Functional Imaging of the
Adolescent Social Brain
In the past decade, cognitive neuroscientists
have used functional MRI (fMRI) to investi-
gate brain activity during social cognition tasks
in adolescent participants. These studies have
revealed consistent differences in brain activity
between adolescents and adults.
In one of these fMRI studies, 18 adolescent
volunteers and 10 adults were scanned as they
read sentences describing situations in which
social or “basic” emotions would be felt.24 So-
cial emotions, such as embarrassment or guilt,
are emotions that require the consideration of
other people’s beliefs, feelings, or desires (their
“mental states”). For example, embarrassment
is felt when you believe that someone judges
your actions as foolish, and guilt is experienced
when you become aware that someone is suffer-
ing because of your actions. In contrast, basic
or “gut” emotions, such as pure disgust or pure
fear, are all about you—and your immediate vis-
ceral reactions. Basic emotions do not require
you to think about other people’s mental states.
In this study, components of the so-called “men-
talizing system,” comprising anterior rostral
medial prefrontal cortex (arMPFC), the pos-
terior superior temporal sulcus at the temporo-
parietal junction (pSTS/TPJ), and the ante-
rior temporal lobe (ATL), showed greater ac-
tivity in social relative to basic emotions in both
age groups (see Fig. 1, top).25,26 However, when
activity was compared between age groups, it
was found that adolescents activated arMPFC,
a brain region involved in mental state rep-
resentation,25 more strongly than did adults
for social relative basic emotions (see Fig. 1,
bottom). In contrast, adults activated left ATL
more strongly than did adolescents in this con-
trast. ATL is a brain region thought to store
social-emotional semantic information.27
Another important aspect of social cogni-
tion is the ability to understand yourself .28 This
allows you to work out how other people see
you and perhaps adjust your behavior depend-
ing on the social situation you are in. In a
recent fMRI study of self-knowledge, 12 chil-
dren (aged 10) and 12 adults underwent brain
scanning while they judged whether a series of
statements, such as “I like to read just for fun,”
applied to them.29 In another experiment, 19
teenagers and 11 adults were scanned in fMRI
as they tried to work out what they would do
in different situations (e.g., “If you were bored
on a Friday night, would you find out what was
on at the cinema?”).30 In both experiments,
the older children and adolescents activated
arMPFC more strongly than the adults, a sim-
ilar result to that in the social emotion study.
Together, these studies collectively suggest that
adolescents use brain regions for social cogni-
tion differently than do adults, in a variety of
situations that require social understanding.
There are a number of plausible explana-
tions for these developmental differences in
functional activity within social brain regions.
One possible explanation has to do with neu-
roanatomical development. It could be the case
that adolescents activate these developing so-
cial brain regions more strongly than adults
because the less efficient neural circuits need
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Figure 1. Main effect of social versus basic emotion in adult (
) and adolescent (
) groups: anterior
rostral medial prefrontal cortex (arMPFC) is significantly active in both. Graph (
) shows the negative
correlation between age and activity in arMPFC to social versus basic emotion at the coordinate for which
there was a significant group by emotion interaction (see Burnett
et al
., 2009).
more oxygen and energy to power them. This
might mean that adolescents can do just as well
as adults in certain tasks requiring social un-
derstanding, but that parts of their brain re-
quire more energy to do so. Another possibil-
ity is that adolescents are actually using differ-
ent cognitive strategies to approach social tasks.
Perhaps teenagers are still “working out” social
situations as a result of accumulating experi-
ence or developing social skills. This may mean
that they require more effortful, online, so-
cial cognitive processing. With age, processing
may become less effortful, more automatic, and
perhaps more reliant on stored social knowl-
edge. An unexplored implication of this could
be that the period of life when arMPFC and
other social brain regions are still developing—
the teens and early 20s—might be a period of
Burnett & Blakemore: Adolescent Social Cognition
particular open mindedness to new ideas and
different types of people.
Social and Nonsocial Intelligence
At this point, it is worthwhile considering
that real-life social behavior relies on many
component processes that are not specifically
social. These are the cool, forward-thinking
processes known as the “executive functions”
that allow you to exert control over your be-
havior and plan ahead. There is evidence that
some of these executive functions are still ma-
turing during the teenaged years,31 and this
may aid the development of adult social be-
havior. For example, social situations will run
more smoothly if you can regulate your imme-
diate emotional reactions (e.g., remaining calm
when somebody says something to make you
feel angry), focus on the task in hand (e.g., com-
forting a friend) by resisting temptations (e.g.,
to ask a nosy question), or keep track of several
contingent facts at once (e.g., “If he just said
this, when she said that yesterday, what she re-
ally meant was...”). These abilities, which are
useful in both social and nonsocial situations,
develop throughout the teens. At the same time,
parts of the prefrontal cortex that enable these
executive abilities continue to mature.
Conclusions and Implications
There are many factors responsible for the
complex changes in social behavior and self-
awareness that take place during the teenaged
years. Hormones, genes, and the psychoso-
cial impact of the physical changes of puberty
undoubtedly contribute, as do an individual’s
steadily accumulating experiences with differ-
ent people and social situations. And although
science has little to say on this issue, the day-to-
day decisions a teenager chooses to make must
surely alter the shape of social awareness and
behavior in the adult.
Recently, brain imaging experiments have
shown that these changes in social cognition
post puberty are also related to brain develop-
ment. In brain regions such as arMPFC, which
is involved in representing mental states, gray
and white matter continue to mature through-
out the teenaged years. These maturational
changes are thought to result in faster and more
efficient brain circuits, which will respond more
appropriately to the tasks they perform. An-
other recent discovery is that activity during
social cognition tasks differs between adoles-
cence and adulthood. Specifically, adolescents
show greater activity within arMPFC than do
adults. Whether this means adolescents are ap-
proaching social situations using different cog-
nitive strategies, or whether it is a side effect of
anatomical brain development in the absence
of cognitive change, is not yet known.
Our research is funded by the Royal Soci-
ety and the Wellcome Trust. S.J.B. is a Royal
Society University Research Fellow. S.B. is
funded by the Wellcome Trust 4-year Ph.D.
program in neuroscience at University College
Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare no conflicts of interest.
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... For example, a well-recognised form is teasing. Such negative comments may be presented as a form of humour and present a form of humour at a developmental stage of life where markers for understanding such complex forms of communication have not yet developed [26]. Of note, when considering the content of the comments, fathers have been found to be more likely to "tease" both their sons and daughters compared to mothers [27,28]. ...
... Of note, positive paternal eating comments were not protective of PED-QoL, with or without controlling for baseline stage. Whilst research is sparse, fathers have been found to be more likely to tease or to use humour and sarcasm at a time where their adolescents do not yet have the cognitive ability to understand such complex forms of communication, which could, therefore, encourage literal and detrimental interpretation [23,26,28,44]. Their comments, although less prevalent than mothers, can have significant associations with EDCs and psychological distress [13,27,45]. ...
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... autonomy and self-perception, with the intended recipient being more attuned to dysfunction, approval seeking and potential attachment anxiety (Doba et al., 2018;Navarro et al., 2022;Peleg et al., 2023). A child's lack of executive function development may mean they perceive what is being said in an unintended way (Burnett & Blakemore, 2009;Bussey & Bandura, 1999). Other knowledge about developmental stages and expected capabilities (e.g., Theory of Mind, Social and Emotional Processing, and even Face Processing; Brizio et al., 2015) should also be considered when trying to understand the potential mismatch between adult communication styles and the cognitive capacity of their adolescent children. ...
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Introduction: Disordered eating among adolescents is of increasing concern given associated physical and mental health sequelae. Cognitions underlying disordered eating are formed in childhood and adolescence. Parents are a significant presence during this period, so it is critical to understand how they influence their adolescent's eating cognitions and behaviors. Methods: Qualitative analysis using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) methodology was employed to consider the lived experiences of 10 Australian adolescents (14-19 years), 60% female, as they engaged with their parents in a range of weight, shape, and eating communications. Results: Our inductive IPA revealed three key themes representing adolescents' experiences and meaning-making: Parents as Influencers-adolescents acknowledged parents are influencers (objects) within a wider context of community and cultural norms (symbols) and can be protective for peer influence on body image ideals; Expression and Perception-the "what" (weight-talk as an object) and the "how" (objects as independent influences) of gendered parental communication related to health and fitness ideals and illustrated diverse interpretations of both verbal and non-verbal expression; and Fertile Soil and Maturity-the adolescent's characteristics and context influence perceptions of communication, a fear of deviating from norms, and an overarching focus on being "healthy" yet not always knowing what that was. Perception of bidirectional communication also offered valuable insights into potential dangers through family loyalty and in-group permissions. Conclusions: Findings highlight implications for the nuanced influence of parental communication and illustrate the pivotal role of parents within the bioecosystem of adolescent development.
... Although basic ToM is typically acquired during the early years, research has shown that ToM develops further into more advanced forms throughout childhood and adolescence (Advanced Theory of Mind or AToM, e.g., Miller, 2009;Wang et al., 2016). The late development of more sophisticated forms of ToM has been linked with brain maturation and executive functions refinement (e.g., Blakemore & Choudhury, 2006;Burnett & Blakemore, 2009). AToM enables complex psychological inferences, for instance, to understand that a person can hold a false belief about another person's belief (e.g., Osterhaus & Koerber, 2021). ...
With the development of the Internet as a main source of information, teenagers are increasingly faced with multiple documents which may contain contradictory statements, and whose reliability must be assessed. One way to assess information reliability is to evaluate the source of the information (e.g., author expertise, intention). However, teenagers rarely engage in such a sourcing process. The present study aims to explore the role of a potential explanatory factor of teenagers’ sourcing abilities: Advanced Theory of Mind (AToM). We hypothesized that AToM would be significantly related to teenagers’ evaluation skills when reading multiple documents, and in particular to their attribution of sources’ intentions and benevolence. We also hypothesized that this contribution will occur over and above teenagers’ word reading and textual inferencing skills. Seventy-two students in Grade 8 read a set of online documents about a fictitious socio-scientific controversy and answered comprehension and evaluation questions. AToM was a significant predictor of comprehension and evaluation performance. The role of AToM was especially important for the source’s evaluation and intentions questions. This study thus contributes to a better understanding of the possible factors of teenagers’ developing sourcing skills.
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Reading is a popular leisure activity for children, teenagers, and adults. Several theories agree that reading might improve social cognition, but the empirical evidence remains tentative, with research on adolescents especially lacking. We employed a very large, and nationally representative, longitudinal dataset from the National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) in Germany to examine this hypothesis. Specifically, we tested whether reading prospectively predicted future self-reported prosocial behavior and social adjustment in adolescents, controlling for a number of covariates. Two-way cross-lagged panel analyses probed the longitudinal relationship between leisure reading and these social outcomes from Grade 6 to Grade 9. In addition, we examined the effect of cumulative reading experience across Grades 5–8 on future social outcomes, using structural equation modeling. We also explored the unique contributions of cumulative reading experience in different literary genres (classic literature, popular literature, nonfiction, comic books). Cumulative reading in general did not predict future prosocial behavior and social adjustment. However, cumulative reading of modern classic literature was positively associated with later prosocial behavior and social adjustment.
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Background Social connection throughout the life course is increasingly understood as critically important for mental and physical health. We sought to investigate the feasibility of using ecological momentary assessment (EMA) and wearable accelerometers to characterize the effects of social isolation and/or loneliness experienced by adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic on their mental and physical health. Methods We recruited 19 participants ages 13–18 from an Adolescent Medicine practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Participants completed surveys at baseline regarding their degree of social isolation and loneliness, as well as their family functioning, school climate, social media use, and COVID-19 experiences. Participants reported on their social isolation, loneliness, social media use, and emotional state up to four times daily for the subsequent 2-week study period using EMA. We also requested participants wear an activity tracker and heart rate measurement device for 14 days to monitor their physical health. Participant feedback was collected via open-ended exit interviews. Feasibility of recruitment/retention, adherence, and exploratory outcome measures were investigated. The pre-specified progression criteria were a recruitment rate of > 30% and a retention rate of > 80%. Results Participants’ ages ranged from 14 to 18 years, and most (13 of 19) identified as female and as Black/African American (16 of 19). Progression criteria were met for recruitment of participants, but not retention. Only 6 participants returned the wearable devices. On average, participants contributed 12 days of EMA data and 8 days of activity tracker/heart rate data. In exploratory analyses, social isolation was correlated with lower school climate, higher COVID-19 experiences, higher depression scores, and lower sleep quality. Loneliness also showed correlation with all these factors except COVID-19 experiences. Conclusions Retention in a cohort study using EMA and wearable accelerometer use was not feasible in this population of adolescents recruited during the COVID-19 pandemic. Baseline survey data did reveal important correlates of social isolation and loneliness that should be explored in future studies. Future research should further partner with adolescents to design longitudinal studies that mitigate barriers related to the pandemic and other factors on subject recruitment and retention.
Awareness of the importance of assessing social cognition skills in conditions showing atypical social behaviours has increased over the years. However, the evaluation of the psychometric properties of the measures and the availability of normative values for the clinical context are still limited. This study aims to revise, provide normative values and evaluate the clinical validity of the Italian version of three social cognition measures: Advanced Theory of Mind (A-ToM) task, the Emotion Attribution Task (EAT) and the Social Situation Task (SST). Measures were administered to 580 adolescents and adult healthy controls (age range 14-50). We performed differential item functioning and Rasch analysis to revise each task, so normative data of the revised measures were calculated. Moreover, the revised measures were administered to 38 individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and 35 individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSD): ASD and SSD were matched by age, gender and IQ with a control sample to evaluate clinical validity. ROC analysis showed that the SST is the best measure differentiating between healthy and clinical groups, compared to the A-ToM (AUCASD = 0.70; AUCSSD = 0.65) and EAT (AUCASD= 0.67; AUCSSD = 0.50), which showed poorer performance. For SSD diagnosis, two SST subscales (Violation and Gravity score) indicated the best accuracy (AUCs of 0.88 and 0.84, respectively); for the ASD diagnosis we propose a combined score between the SST subscale and A-ToM (AUC = 0.86). The results suggest that the proposed measures can be used to support the diagnostic process and clinical practice.
Introduction Conditioning can be used to modulate the perception of pain, in the form of placebo and nocebo effects. Previous studies show inconsistent results as to whether adolescents show similar, weaker, or non-significant conditioned placebo and nocebo effects compared to effects found in adults. There are suggestions that such differences (if any) may dependent on the cues used in the thermal conditioning paradigms. Therefore, in this current study, we utilized novel, neutral 3D-shaped visual cues to implicitly induce conditioned placebo-like and nocebo-like effects in adolescents and adults. Methods During the conditioning paradigm, distinct cues (Fribbles) were paired with low and high temperatures in 24 adults and 20 adolescents (mean age = 25.5 years). In the testing phase, these conditioned cues as well as a neutral (unconditioned) cue were presented with moderate temperatures. Results Thermal discomfort of moderate temperatures was lower when presented with the conditioned low heat cue (placebo-like effect) and higher when thermal stimuli were presented with the high heat cue (nocebo-like effect) compared to the neutral cue. The effects were driven by adults, as neither the placebo-like nor the nocebo-like effect was significant in adolescents. The difference between adolescents and adults was not explained by differences in temperature or discomfort levels, as adults and adolescents had comparable calibrated temperatures and levels of discomfort during heat stimuli. Conclusion Our findings suggest that thermal perception in adolescents is less influenced by conditioning to an engaging novel visual cue, compared to adults. Our work may have implications for better understanding the scope and limitations of conditioning as a key mechanism of placebo and nocebo effects in youth.
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In our daily lives, we routinely look at the faces of others to try to understand how they are feeling. Few studies have examined the perceptual strategies that are used to recognize facial expressions of emotion, and none have attempted to isolate visual information use with eye movements throughout development. Therefore, we recorded the eye movements of children from 5 years of age up to adulthood during recognition of the six “basic emotions” to investigate when perceptual strategies for emotion recognition become mature (i.e., most adult-like). Using iMap4, we identified the eye movement fixation patterns for recognition of the six emotions across age groups in natural viewing and gaze-contingent (i.e., expanding spotlight) conditions. While univariate analyses failed to reveal significant differences in fixation patterns, more sensitive multivariate distance analyses revealed a U-shaped developmental trajectory with the eye movement strategies of the 17- to 18-year-old group most similar to adults for all expressions. A developmental dip in strategy similarity was found for each emotional expression revealing which age group had the most distinct eye movement strategy from the adult group: the 13- to 14-year-olds for sadness recognition; the 11- to 12-year-olds for fear, anger, surprise, and disgust; and the 7- to 8-year-olds for happiness. Recognition performance for happy, angry, and sad expressions did not differ significantly across age groups, but the eye movement strategies for these expressions diverged for each group. Therefore, a unique strategy was not a prerequisite for optimal recognition performance for these expressions. Our data provide novel insights into the developmental trajectories underlying facial expression recognition, a critical ability for adaptive social relations.
Background: Early life adversity (ELA) has long been associated with increased risk for stress-related psychopathology, particularly depression. The neuroimmune network hypothesis posits that ELA increases sensitivity to psychosocial stress, moderating the association between increases in peripheral markers of inflammation and decreases in reward outcomes linked to anhedonia and risk-taking behaviors. The present study examined this hypothesis in a sample of adolescents by using acute psychosocial stress to probe the role of inflammatory signaling in behavioral measures of reward and risk processing. Method: 80 adolescents [13.86 years (SD=1.54); 45% female], oversampled for ELA, underwent the Trier Social Stress Test for Children while providing blood samples immediately before and 60-minutes after stress onset. Blood samples were assayed for plasma IL-6. One hour before stress onset, and then 60 minutes after, participants completed computer-administered behavioral tasks measuring reward (Pirate Task) and risk (Balloon Analog Risk Task). Results: ELA moderated the association between increases in IL-6 and decreases in risk tolerance in pursuit of rewards (p = .003) and reward response bias (p = .04). Stress-induced increases in IL-6 were associated with decreases in pumps for rewards among adolescents exposed to high, relative to little or no, ELA. Further, greater IL-6 increases were associated with increases in bias toward high relative to low value rewards among adolescents with low adversity exposure but not among those exposed to higher adversity. Conclusions: The present study provides the first evidence in a pediatric sample that ELA may alter the role of stress-induced inflammation in reward and risk processing, and may extend our understanding of why stress leads to depression in this high-risk population.
Psychiatric illness and stigma are serious global concerns. Adolescents with psychiatric illness represent a vulnerable group. The purpose for this study was to explore the associations of attitudes toward people with mental illness, mental health literacy and clinical characteristics captured while adolescent patients were hospitalized with the patients’ perceived stigma encountered post-discharge. Psychiatrist-reported less improvement in functioning was associated with perceived personal rejection, and patient-reported severity of symptoms was associated with perceived secrecy. Inpatients who do not display good improvement in functioning while in hospital may benefit from specialized intervention such as cognitive behavioural therapy during and after their hospital stay.
Ever since G. Stanley Hall's (1904) seminal work a century ago, peer relationships have been regarded as a central feature of American adolescence. From the early years through the present, researchers have remained decidedly ambivalent about the effects of peers on American adolescents (Berndt, 1999), but few deny the significance of peer relationships and interactions during this stage of life. Do peers comprise a supportive social context that fosters identity and helps to socialize youth into adult roles, or do they form an arena for frivolous and delinquent activity, with patterns of interaction that undermine autonomy and self-esteem? In this chapter I overview some of the major features of peer relations that have occupied researchers' attention over the past 10 or 15 years. Insights emerging from their studies underscore the complexity of adolescent peer relations and clarify the conditions under which peer interactions foster healthy or unhealthy development.
The study of and interest in adolescence in the field of psychology and related fields continues to grow, necessitating an expanded revision of this seminal work. This multidisciplinary handbook, edited by the premier scholars in the field, Richard Lerner and Laurence Steinberg, and with contributions from the leading researchers, reflects the latest empirical work and growth in the field.
focuses on late developmental events [those occurring during the second trimester of gestation and continuing into the postnatal period]—synaptogenesis and synapse elimination—in human cerebral cortex [in fetuses–70 yr olds], and stresses functional correlates where these can be determined (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Assessed the development in approximately 160 6–16 yr old Ss of the ability to encode unfamiliar faces. Performance improved markedly between ages 6 and 10 and then remained at a fixed level or actually declined for several years, finally improving again by age 16. Evidence is provided that this distinctive developmental course reflects, in part, acquisition of processes specific to the encoding of faces rather than general pattern encoding or metamemorial skills. The possibility that maturational factors contribute to the developmental course of face recognition is raised, and 2 sources of data relevant to assessing this possibility are discussed. (41 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)