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In Adolescence, Girls React Differently Than Boys To Peers' Judgments

Date:
July 17, 2009
Source:
Society for Research in Child Development
Summary:
A new study shows what happens in the brains of preteens and teens at a time of significant change in social behavior. Using brain scan technology, researchers found that in older girls (as compared to younger girls), brain regions associated with social rewards and motivation responded differently when they thought about being judged by their peers. These differences were not evident between younger and older boys.

Teenagers yearn to fit in and be accepted by their friends. A new study suggests that girls and boys think differently about being judged by their peers as they move through adolescence.

The study, by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and Georgia State University, appears in the July/August 2009 issue of the journal Child Development.

The researchers looked at mostly White psychiatrically healthy Americans ages 9 to 17 to determine what happens in the brains of preteens and teens at a time of significant change in social behavior. The youths looked at photos of peers and rated their interest in interacting with each one. Then they underwent a brain scan while reviewing the pictures and rated how much each young person in the picture might want to interact with them in return. The youths were told they would be matched with a peer for a chat after the scan.

The study found that in older girls (as compared to younger girls), brain regions (the nucleus accumbens, insula, hypothalamus, hippocampus, and amygdala) associated with social rewards and motivation, processing emotions, hormonal changes, and social memory responded differently when they thought about being judged by their peers, especially peers with whom they wanted to interact. These differences were not evident between younger and older boys.

"The findings offer a fresh perspective on how changes in the brain relate to changes in the way young people think and feel about how their peers view them," according to Amanda E. Guyer, a research fellow at NIMH, who led the study. "They are relevant for parents, teachers, and clinicians who are trying to help teens adjust socially during adolescence. They may be especially relevant for girls, who are more likely than boys to feel anxious and depressed at this time."

The research was supported by NIMH.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Research in Child Development. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Guyer, AE, McClure-Tone, EB, Shiffrin, ND, Pine, DS, and Nelson, EE. Probing the Neural Correlates of Anticipated Peer Evaluation in Adolescence. Child Development, Vol. 80, Issue 4

Cite This Page:

Society for Research in Child Development. "In Adolescence, Girls React Differently Than Boys To Peers' Judgments." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090715074920.htm>.
Society for Research in Child Development. (2009, July 17). In Adolescence, Girls React Differently Than Boys To Peers' Judgments. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090715074920.htm
Society for Research in Child Development. "In Adolescence, Girls React Differently Than Boys To Peers' Judgments." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090715074920.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

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