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The neural basis of prosocial development in adolescence

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - PROSOCIAL (The neural basis of prosocial development in adolescence)

Reporting period: 2019-10-01 to 2020-03-31

This project examines the development of prosocial behavior in adolescence with a focus on behavior changes in helping, sharing and giving, and includes behavioral assessments as well as neuroimaging. Understanding the brain basis of prosocial behavior may help to unravel why some adolescents develop social skills whereas others do not. Adolescence is an important transition period in human development, during which individual develop from children, with strong dependence on parents, to adults in society with mature social goals. This is also the time where individuals start to differentiate between helping friends and strangers. We aim to understand what are the underlying mechanisms that drive these changes in prosocial motivations, and we hope to eventually contribute to making this a more caring and prosocial society.
We have spent the last 18 months carefully preparing for the larger goals of the project. We validated the experimental paradigm in 500 adolescents between ages 12 and 18 years. This was important because it allowed us to unravel individual differences in motives for prosocial actions, one of the larger goals for the program. We then went on to start validate the fMRI tasks in much detail in adults, to make sure that the project is well prepared. The next phase of the project will consist of data collections of the primary part of the project.
To date, the project has been in the preparation stage. We expect that we are not perfectly prepared to conduct the larger study. This part will consist of longitudinal measurements of brain development and inclusion of daily diaries to better understanding the relation between individual experiences and prosocial motives.