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1.  Community Violence Exposure and Adolescents’ School Engagement and Academic Achievement Over Time 
Psychology of violence  2013;3(4):381-395.
Objective
This study examined the relationships between community violence exposure and two related, but meaningfully distinct, academic outcomes: school engagement and academic achievement (GPA). Psychological symptoms were investigated as mediators of these relationships.
Method
One hundred eighteen youth reported on community violence exposure and school engagement twice during adolescence, and both parents and adolescents reported on psychological symptoms. Cumulative GPA was also acquired from participants. A path model and hierarchical multiple regression analyses were used to assess these relationships longitudinally.
Results
Earlier community violence exposure inversely predicted later school engagement, but earlier school engagement did not predict later community violence exposure. School engagement mediated the association between community violence exposure and school GPA. Internalizing and externalizing symptoms, but not posttraumatic stress symptoms, mediated the association between community violence and school engagement.
Conclusions
When adolescents are exposed to community violence, they may become vulnerable to a cascade of events including psychological symptoms and decreased connectedness to school, which ultimately can lead to overall poor academic achievement. The more proximal, changeable experiences of school connectedness and psychological symptoms offer targets for interventions offsetting long-term adverse academic consequences in violence-exposed youth.
doi:10.1037/a0034121
PMCID: PMC3806333  PMID: 24163782
academic achievement; adolescence; community violence; psychological symptoms; school engagement
2.  The embodiment of emotion: language use during the feeling of social emotions predicts cortical somatosensory activity 
Complex social emotions involve both abstract cognitions and bodily sensations, and individuals may differ on their relative reliance on these. We hypothesized that individuals’ descriptions of their feelings during a semi-structured emotion induction interview would reveal two distinct psychological styles—a more abstract, cognitive style and a more body-based, affective style—and that these would be associated with somatosensory neural activity. We examined 28 participants’ open-ended verbal responses to admiration- and compassion-provoking narratives in an interview and BOLD activity to the same narratives during subsequent functional magnetic resonance imaging scanning. Consistent with hypotheses, individuals’ affective and cognitive word use were stable across emotion conditions, negatively correlated and unrelated to reported emotion strength in the scanner. Greater use of affective relative to cognitive words predicted more activation in SI, SII, middle anterior cingulate cortex and insula during emotion trials. The results suggest that individuals’ verbal descriptions of their feelings reflect differential recruitment of neural regions supporting physical body awareness. Although somatosensation has long been recognized as an important component of emotion processing, these results offer ‘proof of concept’ that individual differences in open-ended speech reflect different processing styles at the neurobiological level. This study also demonstrates SI involvement during social emotional experience.
doi:10.1093/scan/nss075
PMCID: PMC3791072  PMID: 22798396
emotion; somatosensory; language; fMRI
3.  Neural Correlates of Direct and Reflected Self-Appraisals in Adolescents and Adults: When Social Perspective-Taking Informs Self-Perception 
Child development  2009;80(4):1016-1038.
Classic theories of self-development suggest people define themselves in part through internalized perceptions of other people’s beliefs about them, known as reflected self-appraisals. This study uses functional magnetic resonance imaging to compare the neural correlates of direct and reflected self-appraisals in adolescence (N = 12, ages 11–14 years) and adulthood (N = 12, ages 23–30 years). During direct self-reflection, adolescents demonstrated greater activity than adults in networks relevant to self-perception (medial prefrontal and parietal cortices) and social-cognition (dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, temporal–parietal junction, and posterior superior temporal sulcus), suggesting adolescent self-construals may rely more heavily on others’ perspectives about the self. Activity in the medial fronto-parietal network was also enhanced when adolescents took the perspective of someone more relevant to a given domain.
doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01314.x
PMCID: PMC3229828  PMID: 19630891
4.  Subgenual anterior cingulate responses to peer rejection: A marker of adolescents’ risk for depression 
Development and psychopathology  2011;23(1):283-292.
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.
doi:10.1017/S0954579410000799
PMCID: PMC3229829  PMID: 21262054
5.  Neural correlates of social exclusion during adolescence: understanding the distress of peer rejection 
Developmental research has demonstrated the harmful effects of peer rejection during adolescence; however, the neural mechanisms responsible for this salience remain unexplored. In this study, 23 adolescents were excluded during a ball-tossing game in which they believed they were playing with two other adolescents during an fMRI scan; in reality, participants played with a preset computer program. Afterwards, participants reported their exclusion-related distress and rejection sensitivity, and parents reported participants’ interpersonal competence. Similar to findings in adults, during social exclusion adolescents displayed insular activity that was positively related to self-reported distress, and right ventrolateral prefrontal activity that was negatively related to self-reported distress. Findings unique to adolescents indicated that activity in the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (subACC) related to greater distress, and that activity in the ventral striatum related to less distress and appeared to play a role in regulating activity in the subACC and other regions involved in emotional distress. Finally, adolescents with higher rejection sensitivity and interpersonal competence scores displayed greater neural evidence of emotional distress, and adolescents with higher interpersonal competence scores also displayed greater neural evidence of regulation, perhaps suggesting that adolescents who are vigilant regarding peer acceptance may be most sensitive to rejection experiences.
doi:10.1093/scan/nsp007
PMCID: PMC2686232  PMID: 19470528
peer rejection; adolescence; functional magnetic resonance imaging

Results 1-5 (5)