Probing the Neural Correlates of Anticipated Peer Evaluation in Adolescence


  • This research study was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) intramural research program and an NIMH career development grant to A.E.G. (K99 MH080076). We greatly acknowledge Harvey A. Iwamoto for task development and programming; Stephen J. Fromm, Richard Reynolds, and Gang Chen for statistical consultation on neuroimaging analysis; and Monique Ernst, Kenneth A. Towbin, Alan Zametkin, and Jennifer Cameron for medical oversight. We thank the families who participated.

concerning this article should be addressed to Amanda E. Guyer, National Institute of Mental Health, 15K North Drive, Room 208, Bethesda, MD 20892-2670. Electronic mail may be sent to


Neural correlates of social-cognition were assessed in 9- to- 17-year-olds (N = 34) using functional magnetic resonance imaging. Participants appraised how unfamiliar peers they had previously identified as being of high or low interest would evaluate them for an anticipated online chat session. Differential age- and sex-related activation patterns emerged in several regions previously implicated in affective processing. These included the ventral striatum, hippocampus, hypothalamus, and insula. In general, activation patterns shifted with age in older relative to younger females but showed no association with age in males. Relating these neural response patterns to changes in adolescent social-cognition enriches theories of adolescent social development through enhanced neurobiological understanding of social behavior.