Full Program »
Pubertal Maturation and Neurodevelopmental Pathways Underlying Risk for Psychopathology
Adolescence, with the onset of puberty, represents a developmental period of heightened risk for psychopathology. Yet the effects of pubertal maturation and pubertal hormones on the neurodevelopment of emotion processing and regulation remain poorly understood. This symposium features four papers that examine how puberty affects brain function and structure and discusses implications for psychopathology. The first paper describes neuroimaging findings in at-risk girls indicating that striatal activation to social reward is associated with later increases in social anxiety symptoms, particularly in early-maturing girls. The second paper discusses associations between pubertal timing, functional connectivity in affective regions, and depressive symptoms in two longitudinal cohorts. The third paper discusses differences in patterns of neural activation to social exclusion in adolescents as a function of depression course and pubertal status. Finally, the fourth paper reports longitudinal evidence of faster pubertal tempo and reduced prefrontal cortex recruitment to reward predicts risky behavior in at-risk adolescent girls. Discussion of these papers will center on the importance of rigorous assessment of puberty in girls and boys combined with longitudinal designs in identifying sex-specific neurodevelopmental pathways underlying risk for psychopathology and potential targets for early intervention.