Adolescence is a period of rapid biological and psychological development, characterized by increasing emotional reactivity and risk-taking, especially in peer contexts. Theories of adolescent neural development suggest that the balance in sensitivity across neural threat, reward and regulatory systems contributes to these changes. Building on previous research, this study used a novel social feedback task to explore activation and functional connectivity in the context of social threat and reward in a sample of mid-adolescent girls (n = 86, Mage = 16.32). When receiving negative peer feedback, adolescents showed elevated activation in, and amygdala connectivity with, social processing regions [e.g. medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and temporoparietal junction (TPJ)]. When receiving positive feedback, adolescents showed elevated activation in social and reward (e.g. mPFC and ventromedial prefrontal cortex) processing regions and less striatum-cerebellum connectivity. To understand the psychological implications of neural activation and co-activation, we examined associations between neural processing of threat and reward and self-reported social goals. Avoidance goals predicted elevated amygdala and striatum connectivity with social processing regions [e.g. medial temporal gyrus (MTG)], whereas approach goals predicted deactivation in social processing regions (e.g. MTG/TPJ and precuneus), highlighting the importance of considering individual differences in sensitivity to social threat and reward in adolescence.
- social evaluation
- social goals
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Cognitive Neuroscience