A neurocognitive perspective on the struggle between cognitive control and socio-emotional impulses among adolescents who attend pre-vocational secondary education (VMBO): Insights for education and intervention.
07 / 2011 - 06 / 2015
About 60% of the adolescents in the Netherlands attend pre-vocational secondary education (VMBO). This group is highlighted by high rates of school drop-out and delayed graduation. As the personal and societal costs of unsuccessful educational careers are high, considerable educational efforts are invested to keep VMBO students on track. Consistent with recent neurocognitive theories on adolescence, there is a precarious balance between socio-emotional impulses and cognitive control. The primary question of the proposed research is whether the balance tips (too) easily to behaviors that can lead to a temporary disregard of risks and consequences due to cognitive-control deficits adolescents attending VMBO. The proposed project includes two studies. The focus of Study 1 is a fine-grained experimental analysis of cognitive vs. socio-emotional control in VMBO adolescents. The focus of Study 2 is the assessment of neural correlates that underlie the individual differences in cognitive and socio-emotional control among students in VMBO relative to matched control adolescents from higher education. The results of the proposed project will provide insight into the relationship among cognitive and socio-emotional components (micro-level), parent and teacher ratings (macro-level) and school success. These insights provide leading points for effectively adjusting the educational environment to the individual differences characteristics of VMBO students.