Social Network Aggression Task
I have developed an innovative fMRI paradigm to measure aggression following social feedback: the Social Network Aggression Task (SNAT).
I examined this step-by-step: I first investigated the neural processes in adults in order to have a clear understanding before testing these processes in childhood. Secondly, I validated the task in seven-to-eleven-year-old children with three different samples: a pilot, a test, and a replication sample, which showed that the SNAT revealed robust and replicable results. Next, using the SNAT in a large sample of 500 children, I took an innovative approach by being the first to use behavioraul genetic (twin) modelling of task-based fMRI in young children. Ultimately, I used the validated and robust paradigm in a longitudinal design to show that neural development in childhood is a predictor for successful social development.
Longitudinal development of social competence
Using the SNAT, my previous research showed individual differences in development of social competence (i.e., regulating behaviour following social rejection), but only captured two time points across 7-10-year-olds. To truly capture development and model trajectories I am currently including more timepoints to unravel the developmental complexities of dealing with social rejection across a decade of development (7-17-y.o).
My working model suggests that childhood is a sensitive window for dealing with social rejection based on empirical (a) behavioral data and (b) functional brain activation.
Social media and the brain
Currently, it remains unclear how the intense social connectedness though social media affects ongoing brain development throughout childhood and adolescence. It has been suggested that adolescents heightened emotional sensitivity and protracted development of cognitive control may make them specifically reactive to social media. My previous study showed differential developmental trajectories of brain maturation of adolescents with high and lows social media use; but showed no direct links to well-being. In my research, I want to unravel which adolescents might thrive by social media, and for which it might bring challenges.