Neural response to prosocial scenes relates to subsequent giving behavior in adolescents: A pilot study

  • Sarah M. Tashjian
  • David G. Weissman
  • Amanda E. Guyer
  • Adriana Galván


Adolescence is characterized by extensive neural development and sensitivity to social context, both of which contribute to engaging in prosocial behaviors. Although it is established that prosocial behaviors are linked to positive outcomes in adulthood, little is known about the neural correlates of adolescents’ prosociality. Identifying whether the brain is differentially responsive to varying types of social input may be important for fostering prosocial behavior. We report pilot results using new stimuli and an ecologically valid donation paradigm indicating (1) brain regions typically recruited during socioemotional processing evinced differential activation when adolescents evaluated prosocial compared with social or noninteractive scenes (N = 20, ages 13–17 years, MAge = 15.30 years), and (2) individual differences in temporoparietal junction recruitment when viewing others’ prosocial behaviors were related to adolescents’ own charitable giving. These novel findings have significant implications for understanding how the adolescent brain processes prosocial acts and for informing ways to support adolescents to engage in prosocial behaviors in their daily lives.


Adolescence Donating Prosocial fMRI Temporoparietal junction 



This work was supported by a grant from the University of California (UC) Consortium on the Developmental Science of Adolescence awarded from the UC Office of the President, Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives (Grant ID: MRP-17-454825), a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship to S.M.T., and Jeffrey/Wenzel Chair in Behavioral Neuroscience to A.G.

Supplementary material

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ESM 1 (DOCX 137 kb)


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA
  3. 3.Center for Mind and Brain, University of California, DavisDavisUSA
  4. 4.Department of Human Ecology, University of California, DavisDavisUSA
  5. 5.Brain Research Institute, University of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA

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