Probing the neural correlates of anticipated peer evaluation in adolescence

Child Dev. 2009 Jul-Aug;80(4):1000-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2009.01313.x.


Neural correlates of social-cognition were assessed in 9- to- 17-year-olds (N = 34) using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Participants appraised how unfamiliar peers they had previously identified as being of high or low interest would evaluate them for an anticipated online chat session. Differential age- and sex-related activation patterns emerged in several regions previously implicated in affective processing. These included the ventral striatum, hippocampus, hypothalamus, and insula. In general, activation patterns shifted with age in older relative to younger females but showed no association with age in males. Relating these neural response patterns to changes in adolescent social-cognition enriches theories of adolescent social development through enhanced neurobiological understanding of social behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Attitude
  • Basal Ganglia / physiology
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Communication
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus / physiology
  • Internet
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Motivation
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Peer Group*
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Perception*