Neural correlates of social influence on risk perception during development.
Knoll LJ., Gaule A., Lazari A., Jacobs EAK., Blakemore SJ.
Studies have shown that adolescents are more likely than adults to take risks in the presence of peers than when alone, and that young adolescents' risk perception is more influenced by other teenagers than by adults. The current fMRI study investigated the effect of social influence on risk perception in female adolescents (aged 12-14) and adults (aged 23-29). Participants rated the riskiness of everyday situations and were then informed about the (alleged) risk ratings of a social influence group (teenagers or adults), before rating each situation again. The results showed that adolescents adjusted their ratings to conform with others more than adults did, and both age groups were influenced more by adults than by teenagers. When there was a conflict between the participants' own risk ratings and the ratings of the social influence group, activation was increased in the posterior medial frontal cortex, dorsal cingulate cortex and inferior frontal gyrus in both age groups. In addition, there was greater activation during no-conflict situations in the right middle frontal gyrus and bilateral parietal cortex in adults compared with adolescents. These results suggest that there are behavioral and neural differences between adolescents and adults in conflict and no-conflict social situations.