Extensive developmental research has linked peer rejection during adolescence with a host of psychopathological outcomes, including depression. Moreover, recent neuroimaging research has suggested that increased activity in the subgenual region of the anterior cingulate cortex (subACC), which has been consistently linked with depression, is related to heightened sensitivity to peer rejection among adolescents. The goal of the current study was to directly test the hypothesis that adolescents’ subACC responses are predictive of their risk for future depression, by examining the relationship between subACC activity during peer rejection and increases in depressive symptoms during the following year. During a functional magnetic resonance imaging scan, 20 13-year-olds were ostensibly excluded by peers during an online social interaction. Participants’ depressive symptoms were assessed via parental reports at the time of the scan and 1 year later. Region of interest and whole-brain analyses indicated that greater subACC activity during exclusion was associated with increases in parent-reported depressive symptoms during the following year. These findings suggest that subACC responsivity to social exclusion may serve as a neural marker of adolescents’ risk for future depression and have implications for understanding the relationship between sensitivity to peer rejection and the increased risk of depression that occurs during adolescence.
Peer rejection is particularly pervasive among adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). However, how adolescents with ASD differ from typically developing adolescents in their responses to peer rejection is poorly understood. The goal of the current investigation was to examine neural responses to peer exclusion among adolescents with ASD compared to typically developing adolescents. Nineteen adolescents with ASD and 17 typically developing controls underwent fMRI as they were ostensibly excluded by peers during an online game called Cyberball. Afterwards, participants reported their distress about the exclusion. Compared to typically developing adolescents, those with ASD displayed less activity in regions previously linked with the distressing aspect of peer exclusion, including the subgenual anterior cingulate and anterior insula, as well as less activity in regions previously linked with the regulation of distress responses during peer exclusion, including the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and ventral striatum. Interestingly, however, both groups self-reported equivalent levels of distress. This suggests that adolescents with ASD may engage in differential processing of social experiences at the neural level, but be equally aware of, and concerned about, peer rejection. Overall, these findings contribute new insights about how this population may differentially experience negative social events in their daily lives.
Autism spectrum disorders; Peer rejection; Social exclusion; Adolescence; Functional magnetic resonance imaging
Rejection sensitivity is the heightened tendency to perceive or anxiously expect disengagement from others during social interaction. There has been a recent wave of neuroimaging studies of rejection. The aim of the current review was to determine key brain regions involved in social rejection by selectively reviewing neuroimaging studies that employed one of three paradigms of social rejection, namely social exclusion during a ball-tossing game, evaluating feedback about preference from peers and viewing scenes depicting rejection during social interaction. Across the different paradigms of social rejection, there was concordance in regions for experiencing rejection, namely dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), subgenual ACC and ventral ACC. Functional dissociation between the regions for experiencing rejection and those for emotion regulation, namely medial prefrontal cortex, ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC) and ventral striatum, was evident in the positive association between social distress and regions for experiencing rejection and the inverse association between social distress and the emotion regulation regions. The paradigms of social exclusion and scenes depicting rejection in social interaction were more adept at evoking rejection-specific neural responses. These responses were varyingly influenced by the amount of social distress during the task, social support received, self-esteem and social competence. Presenting rejection cues as scenes of people in social interaction showed high rejection sensitive or schizotypal individuals to under-activate the dorsal ACC and VLPFC, suggesting that such individuals who perceive rejection cues in others down-regulate their response to the perceived rejection by distancing themselves from the scene.
Social distance; Gyrus cinguli; Prefrontal cortex; Social support
Involvement with friends carries many advantages for adolescents, including protection from the detrimental effects of being rejected by peers. However, little is known about the mechanisms through which friendships may serve their protective role at this age, or the potential benefit of these friendships as adolescents transition to adulthood. As such, this investigation tested whether friend involvement during adolescence related to less neural sensitivity to social threats during young adulthood. Twenty-one adolescents reported the amount of time they spent with friends outside of school using a daily diary. Two years later they underwent an fMRI scan, during which they were ostensibly excluded from an online ball-tossing game by two same-age peers. Findings from region of interest and whole brain analyses revealed that spending more time with friends during adolescence related to less activity in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and anterior insula—regions previously linked with negative affect and pain processing—during an experience of peer rejection 2 years later. These findings are consistent with the notion that positive relationships during adolescence may relate to individuals being less sensitive to negative social experiences later on.
adolescence; friendship; peer rejection; functional magnetic resonance imaging
The present study aimed to explore the neural correlates of two characteristic deficits in autism spectrum disorders (ASD); social impairment and restricted, repetitive behavior patterns. To this end, we used comparable experiences of social exclusion and rule violation to probe potentially atypical neural networks in ASD. In children and adolescents with and without ASD, we used the interactive ball-toss game (Cyberball) to elicit social exclusion and a comparable game (Cybershape) to elicit a non-exclusive rule violation. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we identified group differences in brain responses to social exclusion and rule violation. Though both groups reported equal distress following exclusion, the right insula and ventral anterior cingulate cortex were hypoactive during exclusion in children with ASD. In rule violation, right insula and dorsal prefrontal cortex were hyperactive in ASD. Right insula showed a dissociation in activation; it was hypoactive to social exclusion and hyperactive to rule violation in the ASD group. Further probed, different regions of right insula were modulated in each game, highlighting differences in regional specificity for which subsequent analyses revealed differences in patterns of functional connectivity. These results demonstrate neurobiological differences in processing social exclusion and rule violation in children with ASD.
Social Exclusion; Rule Violation; Autism Spectrum Disorder; Right Insula; Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging
This study examined neural activity with event-related potentials (ERPs) in middle childhood during a computer-simulated ball-toss game, Cyberball. Experiencing fair play initially, children were ultimately excluded by the other players. We focused specifically on “not my turn” events within fair play and rejection events within social exclusion. Dense-array ERPs revealed that rejection events are perceived rapidly. Condition differences (“not my turn” vs. rejection) were evident in a posterior ERP peaking at 420 ms consistent, with a larger P3 effect for rejection events indicating that in middle childhood rejection events are differentiated in < 500 ms. Condition differences were evident for slow-wave activity (500–900 ms) in the medial frontal cortical region and the posterior occipital-parietal region, with rejection events more negative frontally and more positive posteriorly. Distress from the rejection experience was associated with a more negative frontal slow wave and a larger late positive slow wave, but only for rejection events. Source modeling with Geosouce software suggested that slow wave neural activity in cortical regions previously identified in functional imaging studies of ostracism, including subgenual cortex, ventral anterior cingulate cortex and insula was greater for rejection events vs. “not my turn” events.
Social exclusion; Social rejection; Middle childhood; Event-related potentials (ERPs); Source modeling
This study examined relations among emotional self-regulation, peer rejection, and antisocial behavior in a sample of 122 boys from low-income families who participated in a summer camp and were followed longitudinally from early childhood to early adolescence. Emotional self- regulation strategies were coded in early childhood from a waiting task, measures of peer rejection were collected during middle childhood at the summer camp, and reports of antisocial behavior were obtained during early adolescence. Structural equation modeling was utilized to examine longitudinal relations among these constructs, with results supporting a negative association between use of active distraction and peer rejection and a positive association between peer rejection and antisocial behavior. Furthermore, an indirect effect of active distraction on antisocial behavior was found through peer rejection. Thus, adaptive self-regulation strategy use in early childhood demonstrated direct longitudinal relations with peer rejection and an indirect association with antisocial behavior in early adolescence. Results have implications for early prevention and intervention efforts to foster adaptive self-regulation of emotion and reduce risk for later social problems and delinquency.
Self-regulation; Emotion regulation; Peer relationships; Antisocial behavior; Developmental psychopathology
Neuroimaging studies with adults have begun to reveal the neural bases of empathy; however, this research has focused on empathy for physical pain, rather than empathy for negative social experiences. Moreover, this work has not examined adolescents who may frequently witness and empathize with others who experience negative social experiences like peer rejection. Here, we examined neural activity among early adolescents observing social exclusion compared to observing inclusion, and how this activity related to both trait empathy and subsequent prosocial behavior. Participants were scanned while they observed an individual whom they believed was being socially excluded. At least one day prior to the scan they reported their trait empathy, and following the scan they wrote emails to the excluded victim that were rated for prosocial behavior (e.g., helping, comforting). Observing exclusion compared to inclusion activated regions involved in mentalizing (i.e., dorsomedial prefrontal cortex; DMPFC), particularly among highly empathic individuals. Additionally, individuals who displayed more activity in affective, pain-related regions during observed exclusion compared to inclusion subsequently wrote more prosocial emails to excluded victims. Overall findings suggest that when early adolescents witness social exclusion in their daily lives, some may actually ‘feel the pain’ of the victims and act more prosocially toward them as a result.
adolescence; empathy; peer rejection; social exclusion; functional magnetic resonance imaging
Self-esteem is a facet of personality that influences perception of social standing and modulates the salience of social acceptance and rejection. As such, self-esteem may bias neural responses to positive and negative social feedback across individuals. During functional magnetic resonance imaging scanning, participants (n = 42) engaged in a social evaluation task whereby they ostensibly received feedback from peers indicating they were liked or disliked. Results demonstrated that individuals with low self-esteem believed that they received less positive feedback from others and showed enhanced activity to positive versus negative social feedback in the ventral anterior cingulate cortex/medial prefrontal cortex (vACC/mPFC). By contrast, vACC/mPFC activity was insensitive to positive versus negative feedback in individuals with high self-esteem, and these individuals consistently overestimated the amount of positive feedback received from peers. Voxelwise analyses supported these findings; lower self-esteem predicted a linear increase in vACC/mPFC response to positive versus negative social feedback. Taken together, the present findings propose a functional role for the vACC/mPFC in representing the salience of social feedback and shaping perceptions of relative social standing.
anterior cingulate cortex; fMRI; medial prefrontal cortex; self-esteem; social
The human striatum is integral for reward-processing and supports learning by linking experienced outcomes with prior expectations. Recent endeavors implicate the striatum in processing outcomes of social interactions, such as social approval/rejection, as well as in learning reputations of others. Interestingly, social impressions often influence our behavior with others during interactions. Information about an interaction partner’s moral character acquired from biographical information hinders updating of expectations after interactions via top down modulation of reward circuitry. An outstanding question is whether initial impressions formed through experience similarly modulate the ability to update social impressions at the behavioral and neural level. We investigated the role of experienced social information on trust behavior and reward-related BOLD activity. Participants played a computerized ball-tossing game with three fictional partners manipulated to be perceived as good, bad, or neutral. Participants then played an iterated trust game as investors with these same partners while undergoing fMRI. Unbeknownst to participants, partner behavior in the trust game was random and unrelated to their ball-tossing behavior. Participants’ trust decisions were influenced by their prior experience in the ball-tossing game, investing less often with the bad partner compared to the good and neutral. Reinforcement learning models revealed that participants were more sensitive to updating their beliefs about good and bad partners when experiencing outcomes consistent with initial experience. Increased striatal and anterior cingulate BOLD activity for positive versus negative trust game outcomes emerged, which further correlated with model-derived prediction error learning signals. These results suggest that initial impressions formed from direct social experience can be continually shaped by consistent information through reward learning mechanisms.
trust; learning; social experience; reward; striatum; prediction error
Despite significant social difficulties, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are vulnerable to the effects of social exclusion. We recorded EEG while children with ASD and typical peers played a computerized game involving peer rejection. Children with ASD reported ostracism-related distress comparable to typically developing children. Event-related potentials (ERPs) indicated a distinct pattern of temporal processing of rejection events in children with ASD. While typically developing children showed enhanced response to rejection at a late slow wave indexing emotional arousal and regulation, those with autism showed attenuation at an early component, suggesting reduced engagement of attentional resources in the aversive social context. Results emphasize the importance of studying the time course of social information processing in ASD; they suggest distinct mechanisms subserving similar overt behavior and yield insights relevant to development and implementation of targeted treatment approaches and objective measures of response to treatment.
ERP; EEG; autism spectrum disorder; social exclusion; social neuroscience
The purpose of this study was to compare adolescent and young adult (AYA) pediatric cancer survivors and peers without a history of serious illness on psychological distress, health-related quality of life (HRQOL), health beliefs; examine age at diagnosis and cancer treatment intensity on these outcomes; and examine relationships between number of health problems and the outcomes.
Patients and Methods
AYA cancer survivors (n = 167) and controls (n = 170), recruited during visits to a cancer survivorship clinic and primary care, completed self-report questionnaires of distress, health problems, and health beliefs. For survivors, providers rated treatment intensity and health problems.
There were no statistically significant differences between survivors and controls in psychological distress or HRQOL. Cancer survivors had less positive health beliefs. Survivors diagnosed as adolescents had significantly greater psychological distress and fewer positive health beliefs than those diagnosed earlier. Survivors with the highest level of treatment intensity had greater anxiety and fewer positive health beliefs than those with less intense treatments. Provider report of current health problems related to survivors' beliefs and mental HRQOL only, whereas patient report of health problems correlated significantly with most psychosocial outcomes and beliefs.
AYA cancer survivors did not differ from peers in psychological adjustment but did endorse less adaptive health beliefs. Survivors diagnosed during adolescence and who had more intensive cancer treatments evidenced poorer psychosocial outcomes. Beliefs about health may be identified and targeted for intervention to improve quality of life, particularly when patient perceptions of current health problems are considered.
Peer feedback affects adolescents’ behaviors, cognitions and emotions. We examined neural circuitry underlying adolescents’ emotional response to peer feedback using a functional neuroimaging paradigm whereby, 36 adolescents (aged 9–17 years) believed they would interact with unknown peers postscan. Neural activity was expected to vary based on adolescents’ perceptions of peers and feedback type. Ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (vlPFC) activity was found when adolescents indicated how they felt following feedback (acceptance or rejection) from peers of low vs high interest. Greater activation in both cortical (e.g. superior temporal gyrus, insula, anterior cingulate) and subcortical (e.g. striatum, thalamus) regions emerged in response to acceptance vs rejection feedback. Response to acceptance also varied by age and gender in similar regions (e.g. superior temporal gyrus, fusiform, insula), with greater age-related increases in activation to acceptance vs rejection for females than males. Affective response to rejection vs acceptance did not yield significantly greater neural activity in any region. vlPFC response suggests cognitive flexibility in reappraising initial perceptions of peers following feedback. Striatal response suggests that acceptance is a potent social reward for adolescents, an interpretation supported by more positive self-reported affective response to acceptance than rejection from high- but not low-interest peers.
adolescence; cognitive flexibility; peer feedback; social reward
This study examined patterns of neural response to feedback received during simulated interpersonal interactions in adolescents with anxiety disorders and healthy peers. To this aim, behavioral and neural responses during the Prisoner’s Dilemma (PD) game, an economic exchange task, were compared between adolescents with anxiety disorders (N=12) and healthy controls (n=17). Participants were deceived to believe that their co-player (a pre-programmed computer algorithm) was another study participant. Anxious participants and controls differed significantly in patterns of neural activation in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), ACC, precuneus, insula, and temporoparietal junction (TPJ) when receiving feedback about co-player defection or cooperation. Groups also differed significantly in post-feedback behavior; specifically anxious adolescents were more likely than controls to cooperate following trials when the co- player betrayed them. Our findings provide preliminary evidence that, in social situations, anxious adolescents may not only behave differently than healthy peers, but they may also engage neural resources in different ways. These findings constitute a first step toward elucidating mechanisms underlying social impairment in youth with internalizing disorders.
fMRI; anxiety; depression; cooperation; betrayal; interpersonal interaction; Prisoner’s Dilemma; medial prefrontal cortex; precuneus; temporoparietal junction
Acne vulgaris is a distressing condition that affects the majority of adolescents, but the impact of acne vulgaris on the psychological aspects in this age group is poorly understood.
The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of acne, and the level of emotional, social, and functional impairments among Korean adolescents with acne.
Five hundred four middle school students (13~16 years) participated. The severity of acne was graded by visual examination using the Korean Acne Grading System. Self-reported questionnaires, including subjective acne severity rating, the Self Image Questionnaire, the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Questionnaire, the Index of Peer Relations, and the Beck Depression Inventory were used to assess psychologic status.
There was a prevalence of acne in 78.9% of the study samples, with 10.2% of students having moderate-to-severe acne. Acne was more prevalent and severe in boys than girls. Participants with severe acne and girls had higher levels of emotional and social impairments. The longer the acne persisted, the more stress the students felt. The degree of stress and extent of self-image impairment were related to subjective severity more than objective grading.
Acne is a common disorder among Korean adolescents and appears to have a considerable impact on mental health. Dermatologists should be aware of the importance of basic psychosomatic treatment in conjunction with early medical, educational intervention in the management of acne.
Acne vulgaris; Adolescents; Psychological stress; Psychosocial aspects
To examine the association between the experience of daily interpersonal stress and levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammatory marker that is a key indicator of cardiovascular risk, during the teenage years.
A total of 69 adolescents (Mage = 17.78 years) completed daily diary checklists each night for 14 days in which they reported their experience of negative interpersonal interactions in the domains of family, peers, and school (e.g., conflict with family and friends, peer harassment, punishment by parents and teachers). Blood samples were obtained an average of 8.63 months later and assayed for circulating levels of CRP, using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Measures of body mass index (BMI), socioeconomic status (SES), substance use, stressful life events, rejection sensitivity, and psychological distress were obtained.
A greater frequency of daily interpersonal stress was associated with higher levels of CRP, even after controlling for BMI, SES, substance use, life events, rejection sensitivity, psychological distress, and frequency of daily interpersonal stress 2 years earlier.
Experiencing a high frequency of interpersonal stressors that are typical of adolescent life is associated with higher levels of inflammation even among a normative, healthy sample of adolescents. Additional work should focus on other daily experiences during the adolescent period and their implications for elevated risk for later cardiovascular disease.
C-reactive protein; inflammation; daily interpersonal stress; adolescence
Peer victimization leads to negative outcomes such as increased anxiety and depression. The prospective relationship between peer victimization and social anxiety in children and adolescents is well established, and adults with social anxiety disorder (SAD) are more likely than individuals with other anxiety disorders to report a history of teasing. However, a crucial bridge between these findings (peer victimization in young adults) is missing. We manipulated perceptions of peer exclusion in a young adult sample (N = 108) using the Cyberball Ostracism Task. Reactivity to exclusion prospectively predicted social anxiety symptoms at a 2-month follow-up, whereas self-reported teasing during high school and current relational victimization did not. This research suggests that reactions to peer victimization may be a worthwhile target for clinical interventions in young adults. Targeting how young adults react to stressful social interactions such as exclusion may help prevent the development of SAD. Future research should test if reactivity to exclusion plays a role in the relationship between other disorders (e.g., depression) and peer victimization.
social anxiety; peer victimization; exclusion; Cyberball
In specific vole and primate species the neuropeptide Oxytocin (OT) plays a central role in the regulation of pair-bonding behavior. Here we investigate to what extent genetic variants in the oxytocin receptor gene (OXTR) are associated with pair-bonding and related social behaviors in humans.
We first genotyped twelve Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in the Twin and Offspring Study in Sweden (TOSS, N=2309) and the Swedish Twin Study of CHild and Adolescent Development (TCHAD, N=1240) comprising measures of self-reported pair-bonding behavior. In the TOSS-sample we further investigated one the SNPs for measures of marital status and quality. Moreover, in the TCHAD sample we explored the longitudinal relationship between precursors of pair-bonding during childhood and subsequent behavior in romantic relationships. Finally, in TCHAD and in the Child and Adolescent Twin Study of Sweden (CATSS, N=1771) the association between the same SNP and childhood behaviors was investigated.
One SNP (rs7632287) in OXTR was associated with traits reflecting pair-bonding in women in the TOSS and TCHAD samples. In girls the rs7632287 SNP was further associated with childhood social problems, which longitudinally predicted pair-bonding behavior in the TCHAD-sample. This association was replicated in the CATSS-sample in which an association between the same SNP and social interaction deficit symptoms from the autism spectrum was detected.
These results suggest an association between variation in OXTR and human pair-bonding and other social behaviors, possibly indicating that the well described influence of OT on affiliative behavior in voles could also be of importance for humans.
Monogamy; Neuropeptide; Polymorphism; Autism; Affiliative behavior; Social Problems
Recurrent headache co-occurs commonly with psychological distress, such as anxiety or depression. Potentially traumatic interpersonal events (PTIEs) could represent important precursors of psychological distress and recurrent headache in adolescents. Our objective was to assess the hypothesised association between exposure to PTIEs and recurrent migraine and tension-type headache (TTH) in adolescents, and to further examine the potential impact of psychological distress on this relationship.
Population-based, cross-sectional cohort study. The study includes self-reported data from youth on exposure to potentially traumatic events, psychological distress and a validated interview on headache.
The adolescent part of the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study 2006–2008 (HUNT), conducted in Norway.
A cohort of 10 464 adolescents were invited to the study. Age ranged from 12 to 20 years. The response rate was 73% (7620), of whom 50% (3832) were girls.
Main outcome measures
Data from the headache interview served as the outcome. Recurrent headache was defined as headache recurring at least monthly during the past year, and was subclassified into monthly, weekly and daily complaints. Subtypes were classified as TTH, migraine, migraine with TTH and/or non-classifiable headache, in accordance with the International Classification of Headache Disorders criteria, second edition.
Multiple logistic regression analysis, adjusted for sociodemographics, showed consistently significant associations between exposure to PTIEs and recurrent headache, regardless of the frequency or subtype of headache. Increasing exposure to PTIEs was associated with higher prevalence of recurrent headache, indicating a dose–response relationship. The strength of associations between exposure to PTIEs and all recurrent headache disorders was significantly attenuated when psychological distress was entered into the regression equation.
The empirical evidence of a strong and cumulative relationship between exposure to PTIEs, psychological distress and recurrent headache indicates a need for the integration of somatic and psychological healthcare services for adolescents in the prevention, assessment and treatment of recurrent headache. Prospective studies are needed.
Rejection sensitivity, the tendency to anxiously or angrily expect rejection, is associated with internalizing difficulties during childhood and adolescence. The primary goal of the present study was to examine whether supportive parent–child relationships and friendships moderate associations that link angry and anxious rejection sensitivity to depression and social anxiety during middle adolescence in an ethnically diverse sample of 277 youth (M age = 14.30 years; 46.93% male). Analyses revealed that angry rejection sensitivity was related to depressive symptoms, but only for adolescents reporting low support from parents and friends. Friend support moderated the association between (1) angry rejection sensitivity and social anxiety, and (2) anxious rejection sensitivity and depressive symptoms. For adolescents reporting low support from friends, support from parents was positively related to social anxiety. Findings highlight the importance of considering relationships in studies of rejection sensitivity and adjustment during adolescence.
Rejection sensitivity; Parent–child relationships; Friendships; Depression; Social anxiety
The affective and cognitive mechanisms elicited by the experience of social exclusion—or ostracism—have recently been explored using behavioral and neurocognitive methods. Most of the studies took advantage of the Cyberball paradigm, a virtual ball tossing game with presumed co-players connected via the internet. Consistent behavioral findings indicate that exclusion obviously threatens fundamental social needs (belonging, self-esteem, meaningful existence, and control) and lowers mood. In this study, we followed the question whether the credibility of the setting affects the processing of social exclusion. In contrast to a control group (standard Cyberball setup), co-players were physically present in an experimental group. Although the credibility of the virtual ball tossing game was significantly enhanced in the experimental group, self-reported negative mood and need threat were not enhanced compared to the control group. Event-related brain potentials (ERPs), however, indicated a differential processing of social exclusion. The N2 amplitude triggered by occasional ball receptions was significantly reduced in the experimental group. This effect was restricted for an early time range (130–210 ms), and did not extend to the following P3 components. The ERP effect in the N2 time range can be related to a differential social reward processing in ostracism if co-players are physically present. The lack of a corresponding correlate in the behavioral data indicates that some facets of ostracism processing are not covered by questionnaire data.
A longitudinal, prospective design was used to examine the roles of peer rejection in middle childhood and antisocial peer involvement in early adolescence in the development of adolescent externalizing behavior problems. Both early starter and late starter pathways were considered. Classroom sociometric interviews from ages 6 through 9 years, adolescent reports of peers' behavior at age 13 years, and parent, teacher, and adolescent self-reports of externalizing behavior problems from age 5 through 14 years were available for 400 adolescents. Results indicate that experiencing peer rejection in elementary school and greater involvement with antisocial peers in early adolescence are correlated but that these peer relationship experiences may represent two different pathways to adolescent externalizing behavior problems. Peer rejection experiences, but not involvement with antisocial peers, predict later externalizing behavior problems when controlling for stability in externalizing behavior. Externalizing problems were most common when rejection was experienced repeatedly. Early externalizing problems did not appear to moderate the relation between peer rejection and later problem behavior. Discussion highlights multiple pathways connecting externalizing behavior problems from early childhood through adolescence with peer relationship experiences in middle childhood and early adolescence.
The presence of peers increases risk taking among adolescents but not adults. We posited that the presence of peers may promote adolescent risk taking by sensitizing brain regions associated with the anticipation of potential rewards. Using fMRI, we measured brain activity in adolescents, young adults, and adults as they made decisions in a simulated driving task. Participants completed one task block while alone, and one block while their performance was observed by peers in an adjacent room. During peer observation blocks, adolescents selectively demonstrated greater activation in reward-related brain regions, including the ventral striatum and orbitofrontal cortex, and activity in these regions predicted subsequent risk taking. Brain areas associated with cognitive control were less strongly recruited by adolescents than adults, but activity in the cognitive control system did not vary with social context. Results suggest that the presence of peers increases adolescent risk taking by heightening sensitivity to the potential reward value of risky decisions.
Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) begins frequently in adolescence and is associated with severe outcomes, but the developmental neurobiology of MDD is not well understood. Research in adults has implicated fronto-limbic neural networks in the pathophysiology of MDD, particularly in relation to the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). Developmental changes in brain networks during adolescence highlight the need to examine MDD-related circuitry in teens separately from adults. Using resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), this study examined functional connectivity in adolescents with MDD (n=12) and healthy adolescents (n=14). Seed-based connectivity analysis revealed that adolescents with MDD have decreased functional connectivity in a subgenual ACC-based neural network that includes the supragenual ACC (BA 32), the right medial frontal cortex (BA 10), the left inferior (BA 47) and superior frontal cortex (BA 22), superior temporal gyrus (BA 22), and the insular cortex (BA 13). These preliminary data suggest that MDD in adolescence is associated with abnormal connectivity within neural circuits that mediate emotion processing. Future research in larger, un-medicated samples will be necessary to confirm this finding. We conclude that hypothesis-driven, seed-based analyses of resting state fMRI data hold promise for advancing our current understanding of abnormal development of neural circuitry in adolescents with MDD.
adolescence; brain imaging; depression; functional connectivity; resting-state functional MRI; subgenual anterior cingulate cortex
Functional magnetic resonance imaging was employed to examine sensitivity to social exclusion in three conditions: same-race, other-race, and self-resembling faces. The anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), specifically the dorsal ACC, has been targeted as a key substrate in the physical and social pain matrix and was hypothesized to regulate activation response to various facial conditions. We show that participants demonstrated greatest ACC activation when being excluded by self-resembling and same-race faces, relative to other-race faces. Additionally, participants expressed greater distress and showed increased ACC activation as a result of exclusion in the same-race condition relative to the other-race condition. A positive correlation between implicit racial bias and activation in the amygdala was also evident. Implicit attitude about other-race faces partly explains levels of concern about exclusion by out-group individuals. These findings suggest that individuals are more distressed and their brain (i.e. neural alarm system) responds with greater activation when being excluded by individuals whom they are more likely to share group membership with.
social exclusion; fMRI; race; anterior cingulate cortex