Friendship stability in adolescence is associated with ventral striatum responses to vicarious rewards

Elisabeth Schreuders*, Barbara R. Braams, Eveline A. Crone, Berna Güroğlu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


An important task for adolescents is to form and maintain friendships. In this three-wave biannual study, we used a longitudinal neuroscience perspective to examine the dynamics of friendship stability. Relative to childhood and adulthood, adolescence is marked by elevated ventral striatum activity when gaining self-serving rewards. Using a sample of participants between the ages of eight and twenty-eight, we tested age-related changes in ventral striatum response to gaining for stable (n = 48) versus unstable best friends (n = 75) (and self). In participants with stable friendships, we observed a quadratic developmental trajectory of ventral striatum responses to winning versus losing rewards for friends, whereas participants with unstable best friends showed no age-related changes. Ventral striatum activity in response to winning versus losing for friends further varied with friendship closeness for participants with unstable friendships. We suggest that these findings may reflect changing social motivations related to formation and maintenance of friendships across adolescence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number313
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Anna van Duijvenvoorde, Babette Langeveld, Batsheva Mannheim, Bianca Westhoff, Cédric Koolschijn, Dianne van der Heide, Erik de Water, Jiska Peper, Jochem Spaans, Jorien van Hoorn, Kiki Zanolie, Kyra Lubbers, Laura van der Aar, Mara van der Meulen, Marije Stolte, Neeltje Blankenstein, Rosa Meuwese, Sabine Peters, Sandy Overgaauw, and Suzanne van der Groep for their support during data collection. This work was supported by a European Research Council (ERC) starting grant awarded to Eveline A. Crone (ERC‐2010‐StG‐263234), and a VENI grant from the Netherlands Science Foundation (NWO) awarded to Berna Güroğlu (NWO‐VENI 451‐10‐021).

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© 2021, The Author(s).

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