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Sensitive periods of social brain development in adolescence

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PLEASE NOTE: THIS TALK WILL TAKE PLACE AT 12.00PM. THERE WILL BE NO ZANGWILL TEA THIS WEEK

Abstract Adolescence is a period of life often characterised by behaviours that appear irrational, such as seemingly excessive risk-taking and impulsivity. However, these behaviours can be interpreted as adaptive and rational if one considers that a key developmental goal of this period of life is to mature into an independent adult in the context of a social world that is unstable and changing. In the past 20 years, neuroscience research has shown that the human brain develops both structurally and functionally during adolescence. Areas of the social brain undergo significant reorganisation during the second decade of life, which might reflect a sensitive period for adapting to the social environment.

Biography Sarah-Jayne Blakemore is Professor of Psychology at the University of Cambridge and leads the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Group. Her group’s research focuses on the development of social cognition and decision making in the human adolescent brain, and adolescent mental health.

Professor Blakemore studied Experimental Psychology at Oxford University (1993-1996) and then did her PhD (1996-2000) at the UCL Functional Imaging Lab with Professors Chris Frith and Daniel Wolpert. She then took up a Wellcome Trust International Research Fellowship (2001-2003) to work in Lyon, France. This was followed by a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship (2004-2007) and a Royal Society University Research Fellowship (2007-2016) at the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. She was a Group Leader at the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience until 2019, when she took up a Chair in Psychology at Cambridge.

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