Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Unraveling the Neural Basis of Self-Esteem in Adolescent Depression

What are the social and neural mechanisms that contribute to fluctuations in self-esteem in healthy adolescents and adolescents with depression?

2018 - 2020
Geert-Jan Will
Horizon2020 Marie Sklowdowska Curie COFUND

Depression is the leading cause of illness and disability, affecting more than 300 million people worldwide. More than half of people who suffer from depression have their first symptoms during adolescence. Low self-esteem is a major contributor to the development of depression among adolescents. Self-esteem – the subjective evaluation of our own worth – is shaped by what other people think of us. The goals of this project are: 1) to elucidate the brain mechanisms that underlie changes in self-esteem when adolescents learn what other people think of them, 2) to test how these mechanisms are affected in depression, and 3) to predict improvements and declines in depressive symptoms through combining measures of brain activity with reports about daily experiences collected using smartphone applications.

This research is linked to the project “Unravelling the Impact of Emotional Maltreatment on the Developing Brain

Key publications

  • Will, G.-J., Rutledge, R.B., Moutoussis, M., & Dolan, R.J. (2017). Neural and computational processes underlying dynamic changes in self-esteem.  eLife, 6, e28098;
  • Hauser, T. U., Will, G. J., Dubois, M., & Dolan, R. J. (2018). Annual Research Review: Developmental computational psychiatry. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry


Rivierduinen en Curium

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