Brain functional correlates of emotion regulation across adolescence and young adulthood

Katerina Stephanou, Christopher G Davey, Rebecca Kerestes, Sarah Whittle, Jesus Pujol, Murat Yucel, Alex Fornito, Marina Lopez-Sola, Ben J. Harrison

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27 Citations (Scopus)


Few studies have examined the neural correlates of emotion regulation across adolescence and young adulthood. Existing studies of cognitive reappraisal indicate that improvements in regulatory efficiency may develop linearly across this period, in accordance with maturation of prefrontal cortical systems. However, there is also evidence for adolescent differences in reappraisal specific to the activation of social-information processing network regions, including the amygdala and temporal-occipital cortices. Here, we use fMRI to examine the neural correlates of emotional reactivity and reappraisal in response to aversive social imagery in a group of 78 adolescents and young adults aged 15-25 years. Within the group, younger participants exhibited greater activation of temporal-occipital brain regions during reappraisal in combination with weaker suppression of amygdala reactivity-the latter being a general correlate of successful reappraisal. Further analyses demonstrated that these age-related influences on amygdala reactivity were specifically mediated by activation of the fusiform face area. Overall, these findings suggest that enhanced processing of salient social cues (i.e., faces) increases reactivity of the amygdala during reappraisal and that this relationship is stronger in younger adolescents. How these relationships contribute to well-known vulnerabilities of emotion regulation during this developmental period will be an important topic for ongoing research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-19
Number of pages13
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


  • adolescence
  • cognitive
  • development
  • emotion regulation
  • fMRI
  • reappraisal
  • social

Cite this

Stephanou, K., Davey, C. G., Kerestes, R., Whittle, S., Pujol, J., Yucel, M., Fornito, A., Lopez-Sola, M., & Harrison, B. J. (2016). Brain functional correlates of emotion regulation across adolescence and young adulthood. Human Brain Mapping, 37(1), 7-19.