Virtual Colloquium - Pubertal and Neural Changes During Adolescence: Transactional Relationships with Social Development and Internalizing

Jennifer Pfeifer, Ph.D. University of Oregon

Scientists typically define adolescence as an extended life stage that starts with the onset of puberty and ends with acquisition of adult roles and responsibilities. This is also a period marked by protracted structural and functional brain development. Although most adolescents successfully navigate this period of manifold contemporaneous changes, it is also a time of peak risk for emergence of internalizing (i.e., mood and anxiety) disorders. In this talk, I will present evidence of associations between pubertal, neural, and social changes across the duration of adolescence that are related to internalizing. From this foundation, I will propose a theoretical model in which puberty launches a concert of neural and social changes that individually and together affect adolescent propensity for internalizing disorders, particularly for girls. Over time, these neural, social, and mental health processes interact in a transactional manner to mutually shape trajectories of risk or resilience.

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