Adolescents experience a marked change in their evaluation of fairness, trust, and reciprocity that leads to more altruistic behavior and tendencies that are oriented toward others. In this article, I highlight advances in brain imaging research to focus on how adolescents make social decisions. Using the Ultimatum Game and the Trust Game as examples, I show that adolescents are relatively focused on the self in early adolescence, with impulse control and perspective taking increasing in later adolescence and early adulthood. These changes are accompanied by a shift in the relative contribution of the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, a region important for self-referential processing, to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and temporal-parietal junction, regions important for controlling selfish impulses and perspective taking. This shift in balance may tip adolescents toward more self-oriented choices in early adolescence and allow them to consider consequences for others in later adolescence.

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Child Development Perspectives

Crone, E.A.M. (2013). Considerations of fairness in the adolescent brain. Child Development Perspectives, 7(2), 97–103. doi:10.1111/cdep.12022