Prosocial Brain in Adolescence

Saturday, February 18, 2017: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Room 306 (Hynes Convention Center)
Eveline Crone, Leiden University, Leiden, Netherlands
Adolescence is an important transition period in life, during which individuals gain independence from their caregivers and develop into adults who pursue their own goals. Our understanding of this transition period has benefited from two decades of research on brain development, in which it was discovered that the developing brain in adolescence is much more plastic than previously thought. Brain regions that are important for self-control and perspective taking show protracted development, whereas brain regions that respond to emotions such as rewards and peer influence were found to be hypersensitive in adolescence. These insights have shed new light on adolescence representing a period of risk for heightened emotional reactivity, such as increasing sensitivity to substance abuse and delinquency. However, even though the heightened emotional sensitivity is present in most adolescence, whereas only few of them develop problem behaviour. Is it possible that the reconstructions in the adolescent brain are also helpful to developing social competencies and making brave choices? In this talk I will highlight how this period of rapid brain development provides opportunities for fostering prosocial behaviour (helping, sharing, cooperation) in youth.