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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2016 Nov;70:74-85. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.07.037. Epub 2016 Aug 6.

The neurobiology of the emotional adolescent: From the inside out.

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Department of Human Ecology and Center for Mind and Brain, University of California, Davis, CA 95618, United States. Electronic address:
Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, United States.
Section on Developmental Affective Neuroscience, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, United States.


Adolescents are commonly portrayed as highly emotional, with their behaviors often hijacked by their emotions. Research on the neural substrates of adolescent affective behavior is beginning to paint a more nuanced picture of how neurodevelopmental changes in brain function influence affective behavior, and how these influences are modulated by external factors in the environment. Recent neurodevelopmental models suggest that the brain is designed to promote emotion regulation, learning, and affiliation across development, and that affective behavior reciprocally interacts with age-specific social demands and different social contexts. In this review, we discuss current findings on neurobiological mechanisms of adolescents' affective behavior and highlight individual differences in and social-contextual influences on adolescents' emotionality. Neurobiological mechanisms of affective processes related to anxiety and depression are also discussed as examples. As the field progresses, it will be critical to test new hypotheses generated from the foundational empirical and conceptual work and to focus on identifying more precisely how and when neural networks change in ways that promote or thwart adaptive affective behavior during adolescence.


Affect; Brain; Individual differences; Physiology; Puberty; Social context; fMRI

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