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Promoting adolescent health: insights from developmental and communication neuroscience



Adolescence is a period of remarkable psychosocial and neural development. Many life-long health habits are established during adolescence, making it a window of opportunity for health promotion. One way to promote adolescent health is through mass and social media campaigns. Although some health media campaigns that target adolescents are effective in changing health-relevant cognitions and behaviors, there is considerable room for improving these outcomes. Recent advancements combining neuroimaging tools and health persuasion have suggested key neural mechanisms underlying behavior change and retransmission of health-relevant ideas and norms in adults. This line of work highlights the integral role of the brain's value system in health persuasion and its importance for improving campaign design and effectiveness. Less is known about how these insights could be leveraged to inform adolescent health persuasion. In this article, we review what is known and unknown about the development of the brain's value system and its connections with cognitive control and social cognition systems across adolescence. Combining these insights, we propose that neuroimaging tools offer unique possibilities that could improve adolescent media health campaigns and promote adolescent well-being.

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*Correspondence to: Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania, 3620 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA. Email:


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