The effects of age, sex, and hormones on emotional conflict-related brain response during adolescence

Anita Cservenka, Madison L. Stroup, Amit Etkin, Bonnie J. Nagel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


While cognitive and emotional systems both undergo development during adolescence, few studies have explored top-down inhibitory control brain activity in the context of affective processing, critical to informing adolescent psychopathology. In this study, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine brain response during an Emotional Conflict (EmC) Task across 10-15-year-old youth. During the EmC Task, participants indicated the emotion of facial expressions, while disregarding emotion-congruent and incongruent words printed across the faces. We examined the relationships of age, sex, and gonadal hormones with brain activity on Incongruent vs. Congruent trials. Age was negatively associated with middle frontal gyrus activity, controlling for performance and movement confounds. Sex differences were present in occipital and parietal cortices, and were driven by activation in females, and deactivation in males to Congruent trials. Testosterone was negatively related with frontal and striatal brain response in males, and cerebellar and precuneus response in females. Estradiol was negatively related with fronto-cerebellar, cingulate, and precuneus brain activity in males, and positively related with occipital response in females. To our knowledge, this is the first study reporting the effects of age, sex, and sex steroids during an emotion-cognition task in adolescents. Further research is needed to examine longitudinal development of emotion-cognition interactions and deviations in psychiatric disorders in adolescence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-150
Number of pages16
JournalBrain and Cognition
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • Adolescence
  • Age
  • FMRI
  • Hormones
  • Puberty
  • Sex differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'The effects of age, sex, and hormones on emotional conflict-related brain response during adolescence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this