Pubertal status associations with reward and threat sensitivities and subcortical brain volumes during adolescence

Snežana Urošević, Paul Collins, Ryan Muetzel, Kelvin O. Lim, Monica Luciana

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43 Scopus citations


Adolescence is characterized by complex developmental processes that impact behavior, biology, and social functioning. Two such adolescence-specific processes are puberty and increases in reward sensitivity. Relations between these processes are poorly understood. The present study focused on examining unique effects of puberty, age, and sex on reward and threat sensitivities and volumes of subcortical brain structures relevant for reward/threat processing in a healthy sample of 9-18. year-olds. Unlike age, pubertal status had a significant unique positive relationship with reward sensitivity. In addition, there was a trend for adolescent females to exhibit higher threat sensitivity with more advanced pubertal development and higher reward and threat sensitivity with older age. Similarly, there were significant puberty by sex interaction effects on striatal volumes, i.e., left nucleus accumbens and right pallidum. The present pattern of results suggests that pubertal development, independent of chronological age, is uniquely associated with reward hypersensitivity and with structural differences in striatal regions implicated in reward processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-26
Number of pages12
JournalBrain and Cognition
StatePublished - Aug 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Data collection and analysis was supported by National Institute on Drug Abuse Grant R01 DA 017843 and National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Grant AA020033 to Monica Luciana. Snežana Urošević’s work on the manuscript was supported by National Institute of Mental Health Grants T32 MH 017069 and K01 MH 093621 . The present study was also supported by BTRC grants awarded to the Center for Magnetic Resonance Research , P41 RR008079, P41 EB015894, and 1P30 NS076408 . Thanks to the Center for Neurobehavioral Development and the University of Minnesota’s Supercomputing Institute for resources and support of the presented research. None of the funding sources had any involvement in data collection, analyses, interpretation of findings, or manuscript preparation.


  • Adolescence
  • Behavioral approach system (BAS)
  • Behavioral inhibition system (BIS)
  • Puberty
  • Reward sensitivity


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