Time spent with friends in adolescence relates to less neural sensitivity to later peer rejection

Carrie L. Masten, Eva H. Telzer, Andrew J. Fuligni, Matthew D. Lieberman, Naomi I. Eisenberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Involvement with friends carries many advantages for adolescents, including protection from the detrimental effects of being rejected by peers. However, little is known about the mechanisms through which friendships may serve their protective role at this age, or the potential benefit of these friendships as adolescents transition to adulthood. As such, this investigation tested whether friend involvement during adolescence related to less neural sensitivity to social threats during young adulthood. Twenty-one adolescents reported the amount of time they spent with friends outside of school using a daily diary. Two years later they underwent an fMRI scan, during which they were ostensibly excluded from an online ball-tossing game by two same-age peers. Findings from region of interest and whole brain analyses revealed that spending more time with friends during adolescence related to less activity in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and anterior insula-regions previously linked with negative affect and pain processing-during an experience of peer rejection 2 years later. These findings are consistent with the notion that positive relationships during adolescence may relate to individuals being less sensitive to negative social experiences later on.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbernsq098
Pages (from-to)106-114
Number of pages9
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • Friendship
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Peer rejection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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