Presentation on theme: "Adolescent Relationships as Predictors of Neural Measures of Early Adulthood Emotional Reactivity Rachel K. Narr, Lauren Cannavo, Elenda T. Hessel, Lane."— Presentation transcript:
Adolescent Relationships as Predictors of Neural Measures of Early Adulthood Emotional Reactivity Rachel K. Narr, Lauren Cannavo, Elenda T. Hessel, Lane Beckes, James Coan, & Joseph P. Allen University of Virginia. We would like to thank the National Institute of Child Health & Human Development for funding awarded to Joseph P. Allen, Principal Investigator, (R01 HD & R01-MH58066), and the National Institute of Mental Health for funding awarded to James A. Coan, Principal Investigator, (R01MH080725) for funding to conduct this study as well as for the write-up of this study. Introduction Premises Emotional reactivity may increase risk for psychopathology. Emotional reactivity may be moderated by the support of close social partners; however, longitudinal research on the effects of social interaction on reactivity is limited. Adolescence functions as a key period of development both in terms of social skills and in terms of emotional responses and mental health. The social interactions and expectations developed during middle to late adolescence may provide a backdrop for better understanding threat-related brain activation during times of stress in adulthood Social support during times of stress may be experienced and understood differently, and lead to different outcomes, for adults with histories of more or less supportive adolescent social experiences. Influential adolescent relationships may include parents, close peers, or romantic partners. Hypotheses During a support-seeking task with their romantic partner at age 18, adolescents whose romantic partners show higher levels of warmth, valuing, emotional support, and engagement, and lower negativity, will show lower levels of emotional reactivity to shock at age 25. Similar patterns will be shown when looking at support tasks with parents at age 13 and close peers at age 15. Emotional reactivity to shock will be moderated by received social support (hand-holding). Method Conclusions Results Participants Multi-method longitudinal data were obtained from 184 teenagers (86 male, 98 female) along with their romantic partners, parents, and best friends. 58% Caucasian, 29% African American, and 13% Mixed or Other ethnicity. Mean household income was $43,471 (range $2,500 to $70,000+). Target teen age was 18 years at Time 1 and 25 years at Time 2 Procedures Time 1 (Age 18) - Target teen and their partners engaged in a 6 minute interaction, during which the target teen asked their partner for support on a topic of their choosing. The romantic partner’s behaviors during this support task were observed. Analogous data were collected at age 13 with the teens’ parents and at age 15 with the teens’ closest peers. Time 2 (Age 25) - Target teen was exposed to threat of shock in an fMRI machine, while holding the hand of their romantic partner, a stranger, or no one. Measures. Social Support Coding System Adolescents and key social partners were observed at age 13 (parents), 15 (friends), and 18 (romantic partners) during a support seeking task, wherein the teen asked their partner for support on a topic of their choosing. The Supportive Behavior Coding System (Allen et. al., 2001) was used to code the partners’ behaviors, which include warmth/valuing, engagement, emotional support, and negativity (reverse coded). Emotional Reactivity (Treat of Shock fMRI paradigm) Emotional reactivity was assessed at age 25 using a threat of shock paradigm, wherein while in a functional magnetic resonance imaging device, participants were exposed to threat of shock while holding the hand of a partner, a stranger, or while alone. Regions of interest (ROIs) were determined functionally using the threat minus safe contrast during the alone condition and then parsed structurally using the Harvard-Oxford cortical and subcortical structure atlases. Subsequent analyses were done using mean percent signal change from each ROI. These results indicate that individuals who experienced high-quality, supportive romantic relationships during adolescence were—seven years later—less emotionally reactive to the threat of shock when holding a partner’s hand. Adolescents with poor interpersonal relationships in adolescence may be at greater risk of heightened emotional reactivity—and perhaps by extension, psychopathology—at later development. Future Directions Explore other social interaction mediators and moderators for emotional reactivity. Investigate whether adolescents who experience lower levels of social support and have higher levels of emotional reactivity as young adults are at greater risk for psychopathology later in development. Analyses reveal that individuals whose romantic partners (age 18) were observed as showing more warmth/valuing, engagement, and emotional support, and less negativity in late adolescence show, 7 years later, significantly reduced threat-related activation in areas of the brain associated with emotional reactivity, as a function of received social support (hand- holding). Parental support at age 13 and close peer support at age 15 showed minimal correlations with emotional reactivity at age 25. Given the length of time between tasks and the real possibility that these were spurious findings due to multiple comparisons, they are not included here. Areas showing reduced activation during hand-holding with a known partner included the ACC (p <.05), left anterior insula (p <.05), bilateral posterior insula (ps <.05), bilateral orbital frontal cortices (ps <.05), bilateral interior frontal gyrus, (ps <.05), among others. See Table 1. Handholding Conditions PartnerStrangerAlone Thoughts? Questions? Ideas? Elie Hessel at To minimize overstating the results due to multiple comparisons, a whole brain analysis was done. Preliminary results suggest that the pattern described by the correlations remains true. Specifically, in all significant clusters, a negative correlation has been found between romantic partner support and threat-related activity in the hand-holding condition.