Neuronal correlates of the self-concept in adolescence: A focus on the significance of friends

[Speaker] Gleich, Tobias:1
[Co-author] Romund, Lydia:1, Golde, Sabrina:1, Lorenz, Robert C:1, Raufelder, Diana:2, Pelz, Patricia:1, Heinz, Andreas:1, Beck, Anne:1
1:Charité University (Germany), 2:Free University Berlin (Germany)

Few imaging studies have focused on self-referential processing in adolescents, and the distinction between neural structures involved in self-reflection and reflections of familiar others is not clear. The current study investigated 41 adolescents during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while making judgments about trait adjectives: they indicated whether the traits describe themselves, their friends, their teachers or politicians. We observed greater similarities in neural responses to self- and friend-related judgments compared to teachers and politicians. In detail, classic self-reference structures such as the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and medial posterior parietal cortex exhibited higher activation to judgments about friends. In contrast, brain responses towards judgments of teachers (familiar others) compared to politicians (unfamiliar others) did not significantly differ. Results are in line with behavioral findings of a greater relevance of friends for the development of a self-concept during adolescence and indicate underlying functional brain processes.
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