Publications by Year: 2023


Lin, J., Stern, J. A., Allen, J. P., & Coan, J. A. (2023). Does Attachment in Adolescence Predict Neural Responses to Handholding in Adulthood? A fMRI Study. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. (Original work published 2023)

Objective: Early life experiences, including attachment-related experiences, inform internal working models that guide adult relationship behaviors. Few studies have examined the association between adolescent attachment and adult relationship behavior on a neural level. The current study examined attachment in adolescence and its longitudinal associations with relationship behaviors in adulthood neurally.


85 participants completed the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) at age 14. Ten years later, at age 24, participants underwent functional brain image when participants were under the threat of electric shock alone, holding the hand of a stranger, or their partner.


We found that adolescents who were securely attached at age 14 showed increased activation in regions commonly associated with cognitive, affective, and reward processing when they held the hand of their partner and stranger compared to being alone. Adolescents with dismissing attachment at age 14 showed decreased activation in similar regions during partner and stranger handholding compared to being alone. On the other hand, adolescents with preoccupied attachment showed decreased activation in similar regions only during the stranger handholding condition compared to being alone.


These findings suggest that adolescent attachment predicts adult social relationship behaviors on a neural level, in regions largely consistent with previous literature. Broadly, this study has implications for understanding long-term links between attachment and adult relationship behaviors and has potential for informing intervention.

Lin, J., Namaky, N., Costello, M., Uchino, B. N., Allen, J. P., & Coan, J. (2023). Social Regulation of the Neural Threat Response Predicts Subsequent Markers of Physical Health. Psychosomatic Medicine. (Original work published 2023)


Social Regulation of the Neural Threat Response Predicts Subsequent Markers of Physical Health

Lin, Jingrun MA; Namaky, Nauder PhD; Costello, Meghan MA; Uchino, Bert N. PhD; Allen, Joseph P. PhD; Coan, James A. PhD

Author Information

From the Department of Psychology (Lin, Costello, Allen, Coan), University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia; Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior (Namaky), Alpert Medical School of Brown University; RR&D Center for Neurorestoration and Neurotechnology, Providence VA Medical Center (Namaky), Providence, Rhode Island; Department of Psychology (Uchino), University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Address correspondence to Jingrun Lin, MA, Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, 240D Gilmer Hall, Charlottesville, VA 22904. E-mail:

Received for publication March 16, 2023; revision received June 25, 2023.

Article Editor: Daryl O'Connor

Supplemental Digital Content

Psychosomatic Medicine 85(9):p 763-771, 11/12 2023. | DOI: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000001238




Social support has been linked to a vast range of beneficial health outcomes. However, the physiological mechanisms of social support are not well characterized. Drawing on functional magnetic resonance imaging and health-related outcome data, this study aimed to understand how neural measures of “yielding”—the reduction of brain activity during social support—moderate the link between social support and health.


We used a data set where 78 participants around the age of 24 years were exposed to the threat of shock when holding the hand of a partner. At ages 28 to 30 years, participants returned for a health visit where inflammatory activity and heart rate variability were recorded.


Findings showed a significant interaction between dorsal anterior cingulate cortex–related yielding and perceived social support on C-reactive protein levels (β = −0.95, SE = 0.42, z = −2.24, p = .025, 95% confidence interval = −1.77 to −0.12). We also found a significant interaction between hypothalamus-related yielding and perceived social support on baseline heart rate variability (β = 0.51, SE = 0.23, z = 2.19, p = .028, 95% confidence interval = 0.05 to 0.97).


Greater perceived social support was associated with lower C-reactive protein levels and greater baseline heart rate variability among individuals who were more likely to yield to social support in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and hypothalamus years earlier. The current study highlights the construct of yielding in the link between social support and physical health.

Allen, J. P., Costello, M. A., Hellwig, A. F., Pettit, C., Stern, J. A., & Uchino, B. N. (2023). Adolescent caregiving success as a predictor of social functioning from ages 13 to 33. Child Development. (Original work published 2023)

Adolescent success providing satisfying support in response to a close friend's call in a caregiving task was examined as a potentially fundamental developmental competence likely to predict future social functioning, adult caregiving security, and physical health. Adolescents (86 males, 98 females; 58% White, 29% African American, 8% mixed race/ethnicity, 5% other) were followed from ages 13 to 33 (1998–2021) using multiple methods and reporters. Early caregiving success was found to predict greater self- and partner-reported caregiving security, lower negativity in adult relationships, and higher adult vagal tone. Results are interpreted as advancing our understanding beyond simply recognizing that adolescent friendships have long-term import, to now identifying specific capacities within friendships that are linked to longer-term outcomes.

Costello, M. A., Allen, J. P., Womack, S. R., Loeb, E. L., Stern, J. A., & Pettit, C. (2023). Characterizing Emotional Support Development: From Adolescent Best Friendships to Young Adult Romantic Relationships. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 33(2), 389-403. (Original work published 2023)

This study examined development of emotional support competence within close friendships across adolescence. A sample of 184 adolescents (53% girls, 47% boys; 58% White, 29% Black, 14% other identity groups) participated in seven waves of multimethod assessments with their best friends and romantic partners from age 13 to 24. Latent change score models identified coupled predictions over time from emotional support competence to increasing friendship quality and decreasing support received from friends. Friend-rated emotional support competence in adolescence predicted supportiveness in adult romantic relationships, over and above supportiveness in adolescent romantic relationships. Teen friendships may set the stage for developing emotional support capacities that progress across time and relationships into adulthood.

Allen, J. P., Danoff, J. S., Costello, M. A., Loeb, E. L., Davis, A. A., Hunt, G. L., Gregory, S. G., Giamberardino, S. N., & Connelly, J. J. (2023). Adolescent peer struggles predict accelerated epigenetic aging in midlife. Development and Psychopathology, 35(2), 912-925. (Original work published 2023)

This study examined struggles to establish autonomy and relatedness with peers in adolescence and early adulthood as predictors of advanced epigenetic aging assessed at age 30. Participants (N = 154; 67 male and 87 female) were observed repeatedly, along with close friends and romantic partners, from ages 13 through 29. Observed difficulty establishing close friendships characterized by mutual autonomy and relatedness from ages 13 to 18, an interview-assessed attachment state of mind lacking autonomy and valuing of attachment at 24, and self-reported difficulties in social integration across adolescence and adulthood were all linked to greater epigenetic age at 30, after accounting for chronological age, gender, race, and income. Analyses assessing the unique and combined effects of these factors, along with lifetime history of cigarette smoking, indicated that each of these factors, except for adult social integration, contributed uniquely to explaining epigenetic age acceleration. Results are interpreted as evidence that the adolescent preoccupation with peer relationships may be highly functional given the relevance of such relationships to long-term physical outcomes.