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Publication Detail
Adolescent Health Series: Adolescent Neurocognitive Development in Western and Sub-Saharan African Contexts
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Pozuelo JR, Kilford EJ
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Tropical Medicine and International Health
  • Status:
  • Country:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    Adolescence, Brain Development, Cognition, Decision-Making, Emotional Regulation, Social Cognition, Social Context
  • Notes:
    This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
The transitional period of adolescence has long been associated with physical, social and behavioural change. During this time, adolescents start to develop their own self-identity, make important life decisions, and acquire the necessary skills to successfully transition to adulthood. More recently, advances in brain imaging technology have enabled increased understanding of structural and functional changes in the human brain during this developmental period, and how they relate to social, emotional, motivational and cognitive development. The ability to integrate these developing cognitive processes in increasingly complex social contexts is a key aspect of mature decision-making, which has implications for adolescent health, educational, economic and social outcomes. Insights from the field of developmental cognitive neuroscience could increase our understanding of this influential stage of life, and thus inform potential interventions to promote adolescent health, a critical goal for global health research. Many social changes occur during adolescence and the social environment shapes both brain and cognitive development, and the decisions adolescents make. Thus, it is important to study adolescent neurocognitive development in socio-cultural context. Yet, despite evidence from Western studies that socio-cultural and economic factors impact on adolescent neurocognitive development, existing studies of adolescent neurocognitive development in SSA are relatively scarce. We summarise research findings from Western and SSA contexts, and highlight areas where research is lacking. Longitudinal studies from more diverse global samples will be needed to build a comprehensive model of adolescent development, that characterises both commonalities in developmental trajectories, as well as the way these can meaningfully differ between both individuals and contexts.
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