Intervention vs Prevention
This study will conduct a comprehensive multilevel investigation of the connections between social, cognitive, and biological changes during early adolescence, in order to reveal the ways in which these interconnected changes relate to risk for the emergence of a range of mental health problems that are known to be associated with pubertal development (i.e., symptoms of depression, anxiety, and deliberate self-harm).
Specifically, we will accomplish this goal by conducting a prospective longitudinal neuroimaging study of adolescent girls including three waves of data collection separated by 18 months (initial N=170, age 11 ± 1 years). At each time point we will assess the following: i) hormones and other sex characteristics; ii) brain structure connectivity; iii) social cognitive brain functioning and behavior (in two paradigms measuring self-evaluation, perspective-taking, and intrinsic value of self-disclosure); and iv) mental health symptoms (particularly of depression, anxiety, and deliberate self-harm).
The project will therefore inform a mechanistic model of the association between developmental and psychopathological processes during this stage of life, one that will critically inform early intervention and prevention strategies.