Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

The social brain in adolescence

What is the neural basis of social decision-making across childhood, adolescence and adulthood and what are the developmental patterns in terms of behavior and brain activation?

•	The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) • The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)

Adolescence is a period of important social changes, during which the formation and maintenance of peer relationships is one of the most important developmental tasks. During this period peer relationships become more diverse and complex.  Furthermore, during this developmental period the ability to switch between perspectives becomes more advanced.  This perspective taking has implications for the way we express concern for others, but also for our sensitivity to opinions of others.

Within this research line, we investigate behavior in social interactions with peers, perspective taking and sensitivity to peer rejection and their links with brain development using experimental paradigms adopted from social and economic psychology (economic games). Our studies focus on how peers affect adolescents’ decision‐making process in negative (i.e., increased risk taking) as well as positive (i.e., prosocial behavior and positive learning) ways. Our studies cover a broad age range (8-25) and focus on dyadic peer relationships (e.g., friendships and antipathies) as well as peer status (e.g., popular or rejected status) in the peer group.

Connection with other research