Social development

It has been much argued that adolescence is a key time for social development and that there is a reorganisation of the ‘social brain’ at this time. For example, mentalizing (or affective theory of mind) requires individuals to reflect on and understand others’ perspectives and emotions. On these kind of tasks adolescents work harder (neurally), and still make more mistakes. Furthermore, the neural structure supporting this activity changes across adolescence.

Since part of the the biological task of an adolescent may be to develop good social skills, attention is orientated towards social interactions, in the same way that infant attention is focused on particularly visual stimuli and actions during visual or motor sensitive periods of development. However the capacity to understand others and interact, as with infant vision, is still developing and changing. This can be the cause of much distress, as demonstrated by studies that show social ostracism in adolescents to result in much higher levels of anxiety and stress than in adults or children.


Click on the topics below to find out more about the science in the film.

Sleep      ***      Hormonal Changes      ***      Prefrontal Changes
Inhibitory Control      ***      Mental Time Travel      ***      Limbic Changes
Sensation Seeking       ***       Risk taking       ***       Social Development
Theories of Adolescence      ***     Evolution      ***      Mental Health
Neuroconstructivism      ***     Educational Neuroscience


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