Adolescence as a sensitive period of social brain development

4 March 2015

Time: 6:30pm
Venue: Drapers Lecture Theatre, Geography Building, Queen Mary University of London, E1 4NS

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Professor Blakemore will discuss the importance of the social environment and the social brain when considering adolescent-typical behaviour. Adolescence is a period of formative biological and social transition and is the period of life in which a sense of self-identity, and particularly the social self, undergoes profound development. Social cognitive processes involved in navigating an increasingly complex social world continue to develop throughout human adolescence.

Professor Blakemore will outline research from the past 15 years that has demonstrated the significant functional and structural changes in the brain during adolescence, including how areas of the social brain undergo significant reorganisation in terms of structure, function and connectivity during the second decade of life. The changes in social environment that occur during adolescence might therefore interact with increasing executive functions, heightened social sensitivity and the developing social brain to influence a number of adolescent behaviours, including risk-taking, peer influence and self-consciousness.

Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore (BSc Oxford, PhD UCL) is Deputy Director of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and leader of the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Group at UCL. Sarah-Jayne, who holds a Royal Society University Research Fellowship, has published over 100 papers in her field, is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, and has an interest in the links between neuroscience and education. In 2013 she was awarded the Royal Society Rosalind Franklin Award for her scientific achievements and her proposals to promote women in STEM fields and is actively involved in Public Engagement with Science.

A reception in the Queens' Building SCR will follow.