Brain scans of teens sizing each other up reveal an emotion circuit activating more in girls as they grow older, but not in boys.
The study by Daniel Pine, M.D., of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of National Institutes of Health, and colleagues, shows how emotion circuitry diverges in the male and female brain during a developmental stage in which girls are at increased risk for developing mood and anxiety disorders.
"During this time of heightened sensitivity to interpersonal stress and peers' perceptions, girls are becoming increasingly preoccupied with how individual peers view them, while boys tend to become more focused on their status within group pecking orders," explained Pine. "However, in the study, the prospect of interacting with peers activated brain circuitry involved in approaching others, rather than circuitry responsible for withdrawal and fear, which is associated with anxiety and depression."
Pine, Amanda Guyer, Ph.D., Eric Nelson, Ph.D., and colleagues at NIMH and Georgia State University, report on one of the first studies to reveal the workings of the teen brain in a simulated real-world social interaction, in the July, 2009 issue of the journal Child Development.
Thirty-four psychiatrically healthy males and females, aged 9 to 17, were ostensibly participating in a study of teenagers' communications via Internet chat rooms. They were told that after an fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) scan, which visualizes brain activity, they would chat online with another teen from a collaborating study site. Each participant was asked to rate his or her interest in communicating with each of 40 teens presented on a computer screen, so they could be matched with a high interest participant (see picture below).Two weeks later, the teens viewed the same faces while in an fMRI scanner. But this time they were asked to instead rate how interested they surmised each of the other prospective chatters would be in interacting with them.
Although the faces were selected by the researchers for their happy expressions, their attractiveness was random, so that they appeared to be a mix of typical peers encountered by teens.
As expected, the teen participants deemed the same faces they initially chose as high interest to be the peers most interested in interacting with them. Older participants tended to choose more faces of the opposite sex than younger ones. When they appraised anticipated interest from peers of high interest compared with low interest, older females showed more brain activity than younger females in circuitry that processes social emotion.
"This developmental shift suggested a change in socio-emotional calculus from avoidance to approach," noted Pine. The circuit is made up of the nucleus accumbens (reward and motivation), hypothalamus (hormonal activation), hippocampus (social memory) and insula (visceral/subjective feelings).
By contrast, males showed little change in the activity of most of these circuit areas with age, except for a decrease in activation of the insula. This may reflect a waning of interpersonal emotional ties over time in teenage males, as they shift their interest to groups, suggest Pine and colleagues.
"In females, absence of activation in areas associated with mood and anxiety disorders, such as the amygdala, suggests that emotional responses to peers may be driven more by a brain network related to approach than to one related to fear and withdrawal," said Pine. "This reflects resilience to psychosocial stress among healthy female adolescents during this vulnerable period."
Reference: Probing the neural correlates of anticipated peer evaluation in adolescence. Guyer AE, McClure-Tone EB, Shiffrin ND, Pine DS, Nelson EE. July 2009, Child Development.
The mission of the NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure. For more information, visit the www.nimh.nih.gov.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit the www.nih.gov .
Jules Asher | EurekAlert!
Further reports about: > Brain > Child Development > End User Development > Health > Hippocampus > Hypothalamus > NIH > NIMH > Nucleus accumbens > Pine > Social Emotion > anxiety disorders > contrasts in brain circuit > fMRI > functional magnetic resonance imaging > hormonal activation > reward and motivation > social memory > visceral/subjective feelings
Smart Data Transformation – Surfing the Big Wave
02.12.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT
Climate change could outpace EPA Lake Champlain protections
18.11.2016 | University of Vermont
Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.
Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
09.12.2016 | Life Sciences
09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine