Friend versus foe: Neural networks of prosocial decision-making with peers

L. Schreuders, S. Smeekens, A. Cillessen, B. Guroglu

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePosterAcademic


    Adolescents spend the majority of their time with their peer. Peers, and friends in particular, are known to
    play a salient role in adolescents' social decisions. Adolescents can act in more prosocial or selfish ways
    depending on who their interaction partner is. In the current study we aimed to examine prosocial behavior
    and its neural correlates in interactions with peers. Participants (N = 50, Mean age = 14 years) took part in a
    functional magnetic resonance imaging study where they were asked to make decisions regarding
    distributions of coins in three economic exchange paradigms. Participants made decisions for four different
    groups of peers: liked (i.e., friends), disliked classmates, neutral classmates, and unfamiliar peers. In line with
    expectations, participants were more prosocial towards friends and more selfish towards disliked peers than
    towards neutral and unfamiliar peers. Decisions for friends were associated with heightened activation in the
    ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and temporoparietal junction (TPJ); prosocial decisions for friends
    were specifically associated with heightened activation in putamen and the superior temporal sulcus (STS).
    These findings suggest that, possibly, mentalizing processes and value estimations of the relationship might
    underlie decisions involving friends. Decisions for disliked peers did not show significant heightened brain
    activation. These findings will open pathways to better understand the underlying processes of prosocial
    behavior in adolescence.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    EventThe 4th Annual Flux Congress - Ballpark Hilton, St. Louis, United States
    Duration: 8 Sept 201610 Sept 2016


    ConferenceThe 4th Annual Flux Congress
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    CitySt. Louis
    Internet address


    • Peer relationships
    • adolescence
    • social decision-making


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