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We further hypothesized that youth more advanced in pubertal development would show increased neural response to peer rejection and acceptance (above and beyond the effects of age) in regions involved in social and affective processing.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.Rejection via social media and mobile technologies (i.e.facebook, text messaging) is increasingly prevalent, and has been linked to teen suicide and depression (O’Keeffe , 2012).For example, several studies have shown age-related increases across childhood and adolescence in neural response to peer evaluation in regions of this affective processing network, including the NAcc and insula, striatum, medial PFC and ventral ACC (Guyer , 2011a).One study that compared response to social exclusion on the Cyberball task among early and middle adolescents and young adults found that activity in the sg ACC in response to exclusion was strongest among early adolescents compared with mid adolescents and adults, possibly suggesting a period of peak sg ACC reactivity to social rejection during early adolescence (Gunther Moor , 2011), potentially suggesting that adolescents are less effective at recruiting regulatory resources in response to social threat.We also investigated whether adolescents with depression differ in response to peer acceptance.In the only study of which we are aware to address this question, Davey (2011) found that teens and young adults with depression showed increased amygdala response to acceptance compared with controls, highlighting the potential for important differences in neural response to social , 2012b), to probe the neural responses to rejection and acceptance from virtual peers during live simulated interaction in a sample of clinically depressed youth and healthy controls.

In this study, we examined whether self-reported pubertal maturation is related to neural response to social evaluation.For these reasons, there is a critical need for research that advances mechanistic understanding of normal and abnormal development of social and affective processes (and their neurobehavioral underpinnings) during adolescence, in ways that can inform early prevention and intervention approaches at this vulnerable time in the life course trajectory.Theorists have proposed that increased sensitivity to social rejection during adolescence may be one factor that can help to explain the increase in depression during the teen years (Prinstein and Aikins, 2004; Davey , 2012a).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).Current theoretical models (Nelson , 2005; Steinberg, 2008) suggest that changes in socio-emotional behavior during adolescence may be mediated by the influence of sex hormones on neural circuits that support the processing of social and emotional stimuli.Sex hormones are known to play a role in remodeling and activating fronto-limbic-striatal circuits during adolescent brain development (Sisk and Foster, 2004).It is not known to what extent neural and endocrine changes contribute to the increased salience of peer social status during adolescence, but it is likely that changes such as remodeling of the fronto-striatal dopaminergic systems and a puberty-linked rise in sex hormones could contribute to an increase in motivations to obtain and defend social status among peers (Nelson , 2005; Blakemore, 2008; Steinberg, 2008; Crone and Dahl, 2012).Although these changes are normative, they also may lead to increased risk for depression among youth who are particularly reactive to social evaluation, and/or experience high levels of peer rejection and low levels of peer acceptance.Sensitivity to social evaluation has been proposed as a potential marker or risk factor for depression, and has also been theorized to increase with pubertal maturation.This study utilized an ecologically valid paradigm to test the hypothesis that adolescents with major depressive disorder (MDD) would show altered reactivity to peer rejection and acceptance relative to healthy controls in a network of ventral brain regions implicated in affective processing of social information.


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