Adolescent Neuroscience

Mission and Goals:

The explosion of research on the adolescent brain in recent years has triggered enthusiastic attention from psychologists, neuroscientists, policymakers and legal scholars alike. At no other time in life is there greater intrinsic motivation to explore new experiences than during adolescence. Youth are often at the forefront of new ideas, impassioned defenders of ideals, and fervid leaders. These characteristics are what make adolescents — despite better cognitive, intellectual and reasoning abilities than children, adolescents are not simply ‘mini-adults’ and despite immature emotion regulation, inexperience and dependence on caregivers, adolescents are not overgrown children. Instead, they are in a distinct developmental stage that facilitates the adaptive transition from a state of dependence on caregivers to one of relative independence.

Research conducted over the past decade in animal models and using brain imaging technology has identified key neurobiological changes that underlies this significant shift in behavior. However, adolescent neurobiology is an emerging field that continues to evolve and it necessitates expertise from multiple disciplines to inform the characteristic behavioral changes that occur as children transition into adolescence. UCLA has an abundance of scholars across campus, including Psychology, Neurology, Brain Mapping, Anthropology, Education, Public Health, and Psychiatry, with expertise in adolescent development.

The goal of this affinity group is to promote discourse among investigators at UCLA with unique and important perspectives on adolescent neurobiology and to provide a forum for graduate and postdoctoral trainees to interact with adolescent experts. Specifically, we were interested in characterizing the developing brain within the context in which is matures, considering the social environment, biological development (e.g. puberty), stress and immune processes. Our interest group has garnered considerable participation from PIs and trainees alike. Along with core faculty in departments across campus, including Mirella Dapretto and Carrie Bearden (Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences), and Julie Bower, Ted Robles and Naomi Eisenberger (Psychology), we will generate interest among other faculty and students, lead trainee workshops and journal clubs, establish and extend collaborations, host outside speakers and an annual symposium. 


How to Join:

Adriana Galvan, PhD
Department of Psychology
Phone: 310-206-4850


Andrew Fuligni, PhD
Department of Psychology
Phone: 310-794-6033