Letting the good times roll: Adolescence as a period of reduced inhibition to appetitive social cues

Michael T. Perino, Michelle E. Miernicki, Eva H. Telzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Given the spike in risky behaviors that accompanies adolescence, the need to examine the processes and contextual factors that influence disinhibition for adolescents is of great import. Using an emotionally salient cognitive control task, we examined how socially appetitive and aversive cues differentially affect behavioral inhibition across development. In Study 1 (N=94, ages 8-30 years), we found that socially appetitive cues were particularly detrimental to inhibition, a finding driven by our adolescent sample. In Study 2 (N=35, ages 12-17 years), we sought to explore the neural processes implicated in suboptimal inhibition during adolescence. Replicating our behavioral findings from Study 1, socially appetitive cues again caused detriments to inhibition compared with socially aversive cues. At the neural level, increased activation in affective regions (amygdala and ventral striatum) while viewing socially appetitive relative to socially aversive cues was correlated with increases in disinhibition. Furthermore, both whole-brain and functional connectivity analyses suggest recruitment of affective and social-detection networks (fusiform, bilateral temporoparietal junction) may account for the increased focus on appetitive relative to aversive cues. Together, our findings suggest that adolescents show detriments in inhibition to socially appetitive contexts, which is related to increased recruitment of affective and social processing neural regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1762-1771
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2016


  • Adolescence
  • Emotion-regulation
  • Inhibition
  • Social context


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