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Title: The approach-avoidance systems across adolescence : relationships with risk-taking and anxiety
Author: Howsley, Philippa
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 5467
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2016
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Adolescents are more likely to engage in potentially harmful risk-taking behaviours and experience elevated anxiety levels than both children and adults. The simultaneous increase in risk-taking and anxiety during adolescence seems paradoxical given that high anxiety levels are associated with reduced risk-taking in adults. Despite this, many gaps remain in our current understanding of why risktaking behaviours and anxiety levels simultaneously increase during adolescence. This doctoral work was therefore designed to provide novel insights into the simultaneous increase of risk-taking and anxiety during adolescence. Specifically, this doctoral work aimed to examine how the relationship between risk-taking and anxiety changes across the course of adolescence (Chapter 3), and whether age-related changes in the electroencephalography (EEG) correlates of the approach-avoidance systems can account for increases in risk-taking and anxiety during adolescence (Chapters 4 and 5). To these ends, a large cohort of male and female preadolescents (9-12 years), midadolescents (13-17 years), and late adolescents (18-23 years) participated in a series of behavioural and EEG studies. The first study (Chapter 3) found that the relationship between risk-taking and anxiety followed gender-specific developmental trajectories. Chapter 3 also revealed significant age- and gender-related changes in risk-taking and anxiety in this sample of adolescents. The second study (Chapter 4) used EEG to investigate whether age-related changes in reward- and threat-related anticipatory activity could partially account for the developmental differences in risk-taking and anxiety found in this sample of adolescents (Chapter 3). The findings suggested that adolescents have both reward- and threat-related anticipatory biases. Thus, these findings challenge current theories asserting that adolescents are hyporesponsive to threats. The final study (Chapter 5) used EEG to examine the development of spontaneous alpha and its relationship to risk-taking behaviours throughout adolescence. While alpha was not reliably associated with risk-taking, this study provides novel insights into the development of spontaneous alpha during adolescence.
Supervisor: Levita, Liat ; Waller, Glenn Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available