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Yet, little is known about the neural response to social evaluation during adolescence in youth with depression, especially in clinical samples.
Existing research with depressed youth suggests that adolescents with major depressive disorder (MDD) show altered amygdala reactivity in response to threatening faces (Roberson-Nay , 2011), but neural response to rejection has not been investigated in clinically depressed adolescents.
These apparent increases in sensitivity to social evaluation during adolescence may be linked to neurodevelopment of fronto-striatal-limbic systems that respond to social and emotional stimuli (see Paus , 2008; Pfeifer and Blakemore, 2012).
Finally, we explored whether the association between pubertal status and neural response to peer rejection and acceptance would differ for depressed youth and healthy controls.
In particular, several studies of adolescents have implicated the subgenual ACC (sg ACC), as well as a larger ventral portion of the ACC, in responding to social exclusion and rejection (Masten , 2010).
Emerging data from these studies is consistent with the idea that neural response to social evaluation may increase during adolescence.
First we hypothesized that, relative to healthy controls, youth with current MDD would show increased reactivity to peer rejection in a network of ventral brain regions implicated in affective processing of social information, including the amygdala, sg ACC, anterior insula, ventral ACC and VLPFC.
We also explored whether depressed youth would show altered reactivity to peer acceptance or rejection relative to controls in regions typically associated with reward processing, such as the NAcc and m PFC, but were unsure whether to expect blunted or increased reactivity given conflicting initial findings on response to monetary and social reward in depressed youth (Forbes , 2011).