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Positive EmotionIntegrating the Light Sides and Dark Sides$
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June Gruber and Judith Tedlie Moskowitz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199926725

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199926725.001.0001

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Positive Affect and Adolescent Development

Positive Affect and Adolescent Development

Emerging Levels of Understanding and Clinical Implications

(p.225) Chapter 13 Positive Affect and Adolescent Development
Positive Emotion

Dana L. McMakin

Ronald E. Dahl

Oxford University Press

Adolescence is a developmental period characterized by marked changes in emotion, motivation, and many aspects of behavior, which influence—and are influenced by—neural systems of positive affect. In particular, there is growing interest in a set of changes in reward processing during pubertal maturation, as reflected by heightened emotional, cognitive, and physiological reactivity to cues of reward, that contribute to increased appetitive motivation to explore novel, arousing and rewarding situations. On one hand, these changes confer risks. Greater reward-seeking tendencies can contribute to negative spirals of emotion and behavior including substance abuse and addiction, risky decision-making, and reckless behavior. Alterations in reward processing also may contribute to the increased risk for developing affective disorders in adolescence. On the other hand, these same shifts in reward processing can lead adolescents to healthy versions of exploration and learning, including opportunities for motivational learning that is directed towards increasingly abstract and distal rewards, such as navigating new romantic relationships, or pursuing academic, athletic, or artistic goals. In this chapter, we highlight recent research on changes in positive affect systems in adolescence, and how such changes may relate to these positive and negative growth trajectories of emotional and behavioral health during adolescence. We conclude with a translational discussion of when, how, and for whom might there be clinical opportunities to leverage this affective inflection point to positively shape development. Using targeted intervention strategies to provide the right type of training and experience during key windows of neuromaturational change in positive affect systems could improve adolescent health and development, and reduce morbidity and mortality across the lifespan.

Keywords:   adolescence, positive affect, reward, brain development, affective neuroscience, development

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