Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Teens' self-consciousness linked with specific brain, physiological responses

Date:
July 2, 2013
Source:
Association for Psychological Science
Summary:
Teenagers are famously self-conscious, acutely aware and concerned about what their peers think of them. A new study reveals that this self-consciousness is linked with specific physiological and brain responses that seem to emerge and peak in adolescence.

New research finds that teen self-consciousness is linked with specific physiological and brain responses that seem to emerge and peak in adolescence.
Credit: Philip Date / Fotolia

Teenagers are famously self-conscious, acutely aware and concerned about what their peers think of them. A new study reveals that this self-consciousness is linked with specific physiological and brain responses that seem to emerge and peak in adolescence.

Related Articles


"Our study identifies adolescence as a unique period of the lifespan in which self-conscious emotion, physiological reactivity, and activity in specific brain areas converge and peak in response to being evaluated by others," says psychological scientist and lead researcher Leah Somerville of Harvard University.

The findings, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, suggest that teens' sensitivity to social evaluation might be explained by shifts in physiological and brain function during adolescence, in addition to the numerous sociocultural changes that take place during the teen years.

Somerville and colleagues wanted to investigate whether just being looked at -- a minimal social-evaluation situation -- might register with greater importance, arousal, and intensity for adolescents than for either children or adults. The researchers hypothesized that late-developing regions of the brain, such as the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), could play a unique role in the way teens monitor these types of social evaluative contexts.

The researchers had 69 participants, ranging in age from 8 to almost 23 years old, come to the lab and complete measures that gauged emotional, physiological, and neural responses to social evaluation.

They told the participants that they would be testing a new video camera embedded in the head coil of a functional MRI scanner. The participants watched a screen indicating whether the camera was "off," "warming up," or "on," and were told that a same-sex peer of about the same age would be watching the video feed and would be able to see them when the camera was on. In reality, there was no camera in the MRI machine.

The consistency and strength of the resulting data took the researchers by surprise: "We were concerned about whether simply being looked at was a strong enough 'social evaluation' to evoke emotional, physiological and neural responses," says Somerville. "Our findings suggest that being watched, and to some extent anticipating being watched, were sufficient to elicit self-conscious emotional responses at each level of measurement."

Specifically, participants' self-reported embarrassment, physiological arousal, and MPFC activation showed reactivity to social evaluation that seemed to converge and peak during adolescence.

Adolescent participants also showed increased functional connectivity between the MPFC and striatum, an area of the brain that mediates motivated behaviors and actions. Somerville and colleagues speculate that the MPFC-striatum pathway may be a route by which social evaluative contexts influence behavior. The link may provide an initial clue as to why teens often engage in riskier behaviors when they're with their peers.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Association for Psychological Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. L. H. Somerville, R. M. Jones, E. J. Ruberry, J. P. Dyke, G. Glover, B. J. Casey. The Medial Prefrontal Cortex and the Emergence of Self-Conscious Emotion in Adolescence. Psychological Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1177/0956797613475633

Cite This Page:

Association for Psychological Science. "Teens' self-consciousness linked with specific brain, physiological responses." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130702100956.htm>.
Association for Psychological Science. (2013, July 2). Teens' self-consciousness linked with specific brain, physiological responses. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130702100956.htm
Association for Psychological Science. "Teens' self-consciousness linked with specific brain, physiological responses." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130702100956.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

Techy Tots Are Forefront of London's Baby Show

AP (Oct. 28, 2014) Moms and Dads get a more hands-on approach to parenting with tech-centric products for raising their little ones. (Oct. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Cocoa Could Be As Good For Memory As It Is For A Sweet Tooth

Newsy (Oct. 27, 2014) Researchers have come up with another reason why dark chocolate is good for your health. A substance in the treat can reportedly help with memory. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Five-Year-Olds Learn Coding as Britain Eyes Digital Future

Five-Year-Olds Learn Coding as Britain Eyes Digital Future

AFP (Oct. 27, 2014) Coding has become compulsory for children as young as five in schools across the UK. Making it the first major world economy to overhaul its IT teaching and put programming at its core. Duration: 02:19 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins