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      Studying individual differences in human adolescent brain development

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      Nature Neuroscience

      Springer Nature

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          Socioeconomic status and the developing brain.

          Childhood socioeconomic status (SES) is associated with cognitive achievement throughout life. How does SES relate to brain development, and what are the mechanisms by which SES might exert its influence? We review studies in which behavioral, electrophysiological and neuroimaging methods have been used to characterize SES disparities in neurocognitive function. These studies indicate that SES is an important predictor of neurocognitive performance, particularly of language and executive function, and that SES differences are found in neural processing even when performance levels are equal. Implications for basic cognitive neuroscience and for understanding and ameliorating the problems related to childhood poverty are discussed.
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            Peers increase adolescent risk taking by enhancing activity in the brain's reward circuitry.

            The presence of peers increases risk taking among adolescents but not adults. We posited that the presence of peers may promote adolescent risk taking by sensitizing brain regions associated with the anticipation of potential rewards. Using fMRI, we measured brain activity in adolescents, young adults, and adults as they made decisions in a simulated driving task. Participants completed one task block while alone, and one block while their performance was observed by peers in an adjacent room. During peer observation blocks, adolescents selectively demonstrated greater activation in reward-related brain regions, including the ventral striatum and orbitofrontal cortex, and activity in these regions predicted subsequent risk taking. Brain areas associated with cognitive control were less strongly recruited by adolescents than adults, but activity in the cognitive control system did not vary with social context. Results suggest that the presence of peers increases adolescent risk taking by heightening sensitivity to the potential reward value of risky decisions.
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              A neuromarker of sustained attention from whole-brain functional connectivity

              Although attention plays a ubiquitous role in perception and cognition, researchers lack a simple way to measure a person’s overall attentional abilities. Because behavioral measures are diverse and difficult to standardize, we pursued a neuromarker of an important aspect of attention, sustained attention, using functional magnetic resonance imaging. To this end, we identified functional brain networks whose strength during a sustained attention task predicted individual differences in performance. Models based on these networks generalized to previously unseen individuals, even predicting performance from resting-state connectivity alone. Furthermore, these same models predicted a clinical measure of attention—symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder—from resting-state connectivity in an independent sample of children and adolescents. These results demonstrate that whole-brain functional network strength provides a broadly applicable neuromarker of sustained attention.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Neuroscience
                Nat Neurosci
                Springer Nature
                1097-6256
                1546-1726
                February 5 2018
                :
                :
                Article
                10.1038/s41593-018-0078-4
                © 2018

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