Drawn to Danger: Teens approach rather than retreat from threat
Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013, 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
++F.01.q. Cognitive development
*K. L. CAUDLE
, M. DREYFUSS
, A. T. DRYSDALE
, N. E. JOHNSTON
, L. H. SOMERVILLE
, T. A. HARE
, B. J. CASEY
Sackler Inst. for Developmental Psychobiology, Weill Cornell Med. Col., New York, NY;
Psychology, Harvard Univ., Boston, MA;
Univ. of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
There is a significant inflection in criminal activity during adolescence, but the basis for this increase remains largely unknown. Poor decision making and increased risk taking have been suggested to explain these behaviors. Yet adolescents are better in their reasoning and decisions than children and show less risk taking than adults when outcomes are known. Much less consideration has been given to the role of changes in emotional processes during adolescence, although many juvenile offenses occur in emotional situations. The current study uses a measure of impulsivity in combination with cues that signal threat to assess developmental changes in these processes. Eighty-three participants between the ages of 6 and 29 years were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while completing a go-nogo task, using threat and neutral facial expressions as target (go) and non-target (no-go) stimuli. The results show that teens impulsively react to threat cues more than adults or children and show greater activity in ventromedial prefrontal cortex when successfully suppressing these impulses. This region has been implicated in emotion regulation (i.e., choosing adaptive responses to emotional cues in a given situation). These findings suggest that maturational changes in ventromedial prefrontal circuitry during adolescence may increase the likelihood of approaching, rather than withdrawing, from danger.
MacArthur Foundation Law and Neuroscience Network
National Institute of Mental Health P50MH062196
National Institute of Mental Health P50MH079513
National Institute of Drug Abuse R01 HD069178
National Institute of Drug Abuse R01 DA018879
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