Self-affirmation alters the brain’s response to health messages and subsequent behavior change.

Authors: Emily B. Falk, Matthew Brook O’Donnell, Christopher N. Cascio, Francis Tinney, Yoona Kang, Matthew D. Lieberman, Shelley E. Taylor, Lawrence An, Kenneth Resnicow, and Victor J. Strecher

Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2015)

Affirming core values through strategies like health affirmation has been proven to be an effective way to motivate health protective behavior. In this paper, Falk et al. use fMRI to identify the role of a region of interest in the VMPFC associated with self-relevant processing, affirmation, and positive valuation of health information. While this paper does not focus on adolescence, it is addressing a crucial set of issues that we believe may be particularly important during adolescent development, given the central role of self and identify development during this period. This framework for understanding (and targeting) positive valuation processes can point to new opportunities for early intervention and prevention in adolescence. We welcome thoughts, suggestions, and discussion about these important issues and questions focusing on an important frontier of behavior change relevant to many high-impact issues in adolescence.

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