Social brain development and the affective consequences of ostracism in adolescence

Brain Cogn. 2010 Feb;72(1):134-45. doi: 10.1016/j.bandc.2009.06.008. Epub 2009 Jul 22.


Recent structural and functional imaging studies have provided evidence for continued development of brain regions involved in social cognition during adolescence. In this paper, we review this rapidly expanding area of neuroscience and describe models of neurocognitive development that have emerged recently. One implication of these models is that neural development underlies commonly observed adolescent phenomena such as susceptibility to peer influence and sensitivity to peer rejection. Experimental behavioural evidence of rejection sensitivity in adolescence is currently sparse. Here, we describe a study that directly compared the affective consequences of an experimental ostracism manipulation (Cyberball) in female adolescents and adults. The ostracism condition led to significantly greater affective consequences in the adolescents compared with adults. This suggests that the ability to regulate distress resulting from ostracism continues to develop between adolescence and adulthood. The results are discussed in the context of models of neurocognitive development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Neurological
  • Psychological Tests
  • Social Behavior*
  • Social Isolation*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult