Adolescent Brain Development: A Period of Vulnerabilities and Opportunities. Keynote Address


Address for correspondence: Ronald E. Dahl, M.D., Staunton Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, 3811 O'Hara St., Rm. E-724, Pittsburgh, PA 15213. Voice: 412-246-5878; fax: 412-246-5880.


Abstract: This article introduces and summarizes the goals of the symposium. It also provides an overview of a conceptual framework for understanding adolescence, which emphasizes how the very nature of this developmental transition requires an interdisciplinary approach—one that focuses on brain/behavior/social-context interactions during this important maturational period. More specifically it describes a set of neurobehavioral changes that appear to be linked to pubertal development, which appear to have a significant effect on motivation and emotion, and considers these puberty-specific changes in affect in relation to a much larger set of developmental changes in adolescence. This framework is used to argue for the need for a transdisciplinary dialogue that brings together work in several areas of neuroscience (including animal models) and normal development with clinical and social policy research aimed at early intervention and prevention strategies.