Stress and the adolescent brain: Amygdala-prefrontal cortex circuitry and ventral striatum as developmental targets

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2016 Nov;70:217-227. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.07.030. Epub 2016 Jul 26.


Adolescence is a time in development when significant changes occur in affective neurobiology. These changes provide a prolonged period of plasticity to prepare the individual for independence. However, they also render the system highly vulnerable to the effects of environmental stress exposures. Here, we review the human literature on the associations between stress-exposure and developmental changes in amygdala, prefrontal cortex, and ventral striatal dopaminergic systems during the adolescent period. Despite the vast differences in types of adverse exposures presented in his review, these neurobiological systems appear consistently vulnerable to stress experienced during development, providing putative mechanisms to explain why affective processes that emerge during adolescence are particularly sensitive to environmental influences.

Keywords: Adolescence; Amygdala; Human; Prefrontal cortex; Stress; Ventral striatum.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Amygdala*
  • Humans
  • Neurobiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex*
  • Stress, Physiological*
  • Ventral Striatum*