Universiteit Leiden

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PhD Defence

Got a friend in me?

Wednesday 6 March 2019
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden

Humans have a strong need for social connections, which provide social security and a feeling of social acceptance. Across adolescence, peers emerge as important social interaction partners to fulfill the need for social connections. In her dissertation, Elisabeth Schreuders highlights adolescence as a sensitive period for pursuing personal goals and social development through interactions with different familiar peers, particularly friends.

Neural reward-related processes and neural processes underlying prosocial behavior were examined using longitudinal and ecologically valid research designs. The findings show involvement of changes in ventral striatum reward sensitivity from early to mid-adolescence in the motivation to pursue personally valued goals, including stable friendships. It was furthermore found that adults who to a lesser extent adhered to the social norm of behaving in a prosocial manner toward friends yielded greater activity in the supplementary motor area and anterior insula.

Additionally, exploratory analyses showed that mid-adolescents with greater social competence yielded greater activity in several brain areas implicated in prosocial decision-making involving friends, including the putamen and superior parietal lobule. Together, these findings highlight adolescence as a sensitive period for self and social development, in which social motivations are reflected in interactions with different types of peers.


  • Prof. B. G├╝roglu
  • Prof. E.A. Crone


PhD defences are free; you do not have to register.

PhD dissertations

PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally after the defence through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

Press contact

Maarten Muns, Scientific Communications Adviser, Leiden University
+31 71 527 3282

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