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Do Hostile School Environments Promote Social Deviance by Shaping Neural Responses to Social Exclusion?

  • Author(s): Schriber, Roberta A
  • Rogers, Christina R
  • Ferrer, Emilio
  • Conger, Rand D
  • Robins, Richard W
  • Hastings, Paul D
  • Guyer, Amanda E
  • et al.
Abstract

The present study examined adolescents' neural responses to social exclusion as a mediator of past exposure to a hostile school environment (HSE) and later social deviance, and whether family connectedness buffered these associations. Participants (166 Mexican-origin adolescents, 54.4% female) reported on their HSE exposure and family connectedness across Grades 9-11. Six months later, neural responses to social exclusion were measured. Finally, social deviance was self-reported in Grades 9 and 12. The HSE-social deviance link was mediated by greater reactivity to social deviance in subgenual anterior cingulate cortex, a region from the social pain network also implicated in social susceptibility. However, youths with stronger family bonds were protected from this neurobiologically mediated path. These findings suggest a complex interplay of risk and protective factors that impact adolescent behavior through the brain.

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