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Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2017 Jun;17(3):554-576. doi: 10.3758/s13415-017-0497-9.

Brain activity underlying negative self- and other-perception in adolescents: The role of attachment-derived self-representations.

Author information

1
Developmental Clinical Psychology Research Unit, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
2
Office Médico-Pédagogique Research Unit, Department of Psychiatry, University of Geneva School of Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland.
3
Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London, London, UK.
4
Swiss Center for Affective Sciences, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
5
Laboratory for the Study of Emotion Elicitation and Expression, Department of Psychology, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
6
Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
7
Department of Social Neuroscience, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany. vrticka@cbs.mpg.de.

Abstract

One of teenagers' key developmental tasks is to engage in new and meaningful relationships with peers and adults outside the family context. Attachment-derived expectations about the self and others in terms of internal attachment working models have the potential to shape such social reorientation processes critically and thereby influence adolescents' social-emotional development and social integration. Because the neural underpinnings of this developmental task remain largely unknown, we sought to investigate them by functional magnetic resonance imaging. We asked n = 44 adolescents (ages 12.01-18.84 years) to evaluate positive and negative adjectives regarding either themselves or a close other during an adapted version of the well-established self-other trait-evaluation task. As measures of attachment, we obtained scores reflecting participants' positive versus negative attachment-derived self- and other-models by means of the Relationship Questionnaire. We controlled for possible confounding factors by also obtaining scores reflecting internalizing/externalizing problems, schizotypy, and borderline symptomatology. Our results revealed that participants with a more negative attachment-derived self-model showed increased brain activity during positive and negative adjective evaluation regarding the self, but decreased brain activity during negative adjective evaluation regarding a close other, in bilateral amygdala/parahippocampus, bilateral anterior temporal pole/anterior superior temporal gyrus, and left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. These findings suggest that a low positivity of the self-concept characteristic for the attachment anxiety dimension may influence neural information processing, but in opposite directions when it comes to self- versus (close) other-representations. We discuss our results in the framework of attachment theory and regarding their implications especially for adolescent social-emotional development and social integration.

KEYWORDS:

Adolescence; Attachment theory; Negative self-model; Self- versus other-processing; fMRI

PMID:
28168598
PMCID:
PMC5403860
DOI:
10.3758/s13415-017-0497-9
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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