Towards an individualised, mechanistic understanding of resilience to mental illness during development: the role of affective processing in adolescence
University College London
Adolescence can be a difficult time when emotions are especially important as young people forge new social relationships and become more independent. Adolescence is also a period during which many common mental health difficulties emerge, including anxiety, depression and conduct problems. These difficulties range from mild to severe and it is unsure why some adolescents experience mental health difficulties while others do not. We also do not know the biological factors that influence the development and persistence of these difficulties. We all interpret emotional information in different ways, and these differences may tell us important information about why some adolescents are more vulnerable to developing mental illness.
I will investigate how individual differences in neurobiological and behavioural factors relate to the way emotion is processed and the development of mental health difficulties over time. I will then develop more sensitive tests to explore how these individual differences relate to variability in adolescents’ characterisation of emotions represented by facial expressions.
A better understanding of how these processes work will make it easier to identify these problems earlier in adolescence and treat them before they become more problematic.