Neural correlates associated with conformity in adolescent and young adult men


Social influence affects us throughout our lives, shaping our attitudes, behaviors, and preferences. Thus, the current study aimed to examine whether key age groups (adolescence versus young adulthood) were associated with differences in neural correlates associated with processing social feedback and conformity (i.e., conflict detection, positive valuation, and mentalizing) among young men. We recruited 153 participants across 5 studies, who completed a social influence task during an fMRI scan. Overall, participants were more likely to conform by changing their ratings when misaligned with others, and adolescents were more likely to conform when misaligned (compared to aligned) with others compared to young adults. Further, we found that adolescents showed increased activity in mentalizing (TPJ, dmPFC) and positive valuation regions (VS, vmPFC), compared to young adults, in response to misalignment with others. In contrast, young adults showed inc reased activity in conflict detection regions (AI, dACC) when exposed to feedback that they were misaligned with others and when conforming to that feedback. Overall, our results offer initial evidence that adolescent and young adult men engage different neural processes when they find out they are misaligned with others and when conforming to the recommendations of others, and this difference appears to track with brain responses in conflict detection, mentalizing and value regions.

Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience