When Is an Adolescent an Adult? Assessing Cognitive Control in Emotional and Nonemotional Contexts

Alexandra O. Cohen, Kaitlyn Breiner, Laurence Steinberg, Richard J. Bonnie, Elizabeth S. Scott, Kim A. Taylor-Thompson, Marc D. Rudolph, Jason Chein, Jennifer A. Richeson, Aaron Heller, Melanie R. Silverman, Danielle V. Dellarco, Damien A. Fair, Adriana Galván, B. J. Casey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

59 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

An individual is typically considered an adult at age 18, although the age of adulthood varies for different legal and social policies. A key question is how cognitive capacities relevant to these policies change with development. The current study used an emotional go/no-go paradigm and functional neuroimaging to assess cognitive control under sustained states of negative and positive arousal in a community sample of one hundred ten 13- to 25-year-olds from New York City and Los Angeles. The results showed diminished cognitive performance under brief and prolonged negative emotional arousal in 18- to 21-year-olds relative to adults over 21. This reduction in performance was paralleled by decreased activity in fronto-parietal circuitry, implicated in cognitive control, and increased sustained activity in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, involved in emotional processes. The findings suggest a developmental shift in cognitive capacity in emotional situations that coincides with dynamic changes in prefrontal circuitry. These findings may inform age-related social policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-562
Number of pages14
JournalPsychological Science
Volume27
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016

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Public Policy
Arousal
Functional Neuroimaging
Los Angeles
Prefrontal Cortex

Keywords

  • adolescence
  • cognitive control
  • development
  • emotion
  • fMRI
  • legal policy
  • young adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

Cohen, A. O., Breiner, K., Steinberg, L., Bonnie, R. J., Scott, E. S., Taylor-Thompson, K. A., ... Casey, B. J. (2016). When Is an Adolescent an Adult? Assessing Cognitive Control in Emotional and Nonemotional Contexts. Psychological Science, 27(4), 549-562. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797615627625

When Is an Adolescent an Adult? Assessing Cognitive Control in Emotional and Nonemotional Contexts. / Cohen, Alexandra O.; Breiner, Kaitlyn; Steinberg, Laurence; Bonnie, Richard J.; Scott, Elizabeth S.; Taylor-Thompson, Kim A.; Rudolph, Marc D.; Chein, Jason; Richeson, Jennifer A.; Heller, Aaron; Silverman, Melanie R.; Dellarco, Danielle V.; Fair, Damien A.; Galván, Adriana; Casey, B. J.

In: Psychological Science, Vol. 27, No. 4, 2016, p. 549-562.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Cohen, AO, Breiner, K, Steinberg, L, Bonnie, RJ, Scott, ES, Taylor-Thompson, KA, Rudolph, MD, Chein, J, Richeson, JA, Heller, A, Silverman, MR, Dellarco, DV, Fair, DA, Galván, A & Casey, BJ 2016, 'When Is an Adolescent an Adult? Assessing Cognitive Control in Emotional and Nonemotional Contexts', Psychological Science, vol. 27, no. 4, pp. 549-562. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797615627625
Cohen, Alexandra O. ; Breiner, Kaitlyn ; Steinberg, Laurence ; Bonnie, Richard J. ; Scott, Elizabeth S. ; Taylor-Thompson, Kim A. ; Rudolph, Marc D. ; Chein, Jason ; Richeson, Jennifer A. ; Heller, Aaron ; Silverman, Melanie R. ; Dellarco, Danielle V. ; Fair, Damien A. ; Galván, Adriana ; Casey, B. J. / When Is an Adolescent an Adult? Assessing Cognitive Control in Emotional and Nonemotional Contexts. In: Psychological Science. 2016 ; Vol. 27, No. 4. pp. 549-562.
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