Increasingly, research is turning to the ways in which social context impacts decision making and feedback processing in adolescents. The current study recorded electroencephalography to examine the trajectory of development across adolescence, with a focus on how social context impacts cognition and behaviour. To that end, younger (10-12 years) and older (14-16 years) adolescents played a modified Taylor Aggression Paradigm against two virtual opponents: a low-provoker and a high-provoker. During the task's decision phase (where participants select punishment for their opponent), we examined two event-related potentials: the N2 and the late positive potential (LPP). During the outcome phase (where participants experience win or loss feedback), we measured the feedback related negativity (FRN). Although N2 amplitudes did not vary with provocation, LPP amplitudes were enhanced under high provocation for the younger group, suggesting that emotional reactivity during the decision phase was heightened for early adolescents. During the outcome phase, the FRN was reduced following win outcomes under high provocation for both groups, suggesting that a highly provocative social opponent may influence the reward response. Collectively, the data argue that social context is an important factor modulating neural responses in adolescent behavioural and brain development.
- Decision making
- Social provocation