The development of executive cognitive function and emotion regulation in adolescence

Amanda Kesek, Philip D Zelazo, Marc D. Lewis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

12 Scopus citations


Adolescence is a time of great physical and psychological change, often accompanied by challenging emotional experiences. Many adolescents find themselves in conflict with parents and other adults as they struggle with powerful new feelings. However, adolescents also isolate themselves, sometimes for days at a time, and struggle with sadness, loneliness, shame, self-doubt, and other feelings associated with depression. The dramatic emotional states that adolescents experience challenge their developing abilities to regulate these emotions. Indeed, emotion regulation (i.e. the deliberate self-regulation of feelings, impulses, and appraisals) is one of the most important developmental processes of adolescence. The capacity for emotion regulation increases throughout adolescence, as does the intensity of emotions themselves. However, these changes do not always occur in parallel. When the advent of novel emotional states precedes the development of the capacity to regulate them, adolescents may resemble unskilled drivers trying to maneuver a car that has just been turbo-charged by puberty (Dahl, 2004). In fact, many theorists consider it typical for regulatory capacities to lag behind increases in the intensity and range of emotions. This lag may explain the normative increase in negative emotion and family conflict reported by many researchers (e.g. Paikoff & Brooks-Gunn, 1991). For these reasons, understanding the neurocognitive bases of emotion regulation in adolescence is an important objective for developmental psychologists. The ability to regulate emotions and behavior depends, in large part, on cognitive capacities that do not reach maturity until early adulthood.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdolescent Emotional Development and the Emergence of Depressive Disorders
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9780511551963
ISBN (Print)9780521869393
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press 2009


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