Navigation Links
Adolescent brains biologically wired to engage in risky behavior, study finds
Date:6/3/2010

There are biological motivations behind the stereotypically poor decisions and risky behavior associated with adolescence, new research from a University of Texas at Austin psychologist reveals.

Previous studies have found that teenagers tend to be more sensitive to rewards than either children or adults. Now, Russell Poldrack and fellow researchers have taken the first major step in identifying which brain systems cause adolescents to have these urges and what implications these biological differences may hold for rash adolescent behavior.

"Our results raise the hypothesis that these risky behaviors, such as experimenting with drugs or having unsafe sex, are actually driven by over activity in the mesolimbic dopamine system, a system which appears to be the final pathway to all addictions, in the adolescent brain," Poldrack said.

Poldrack, a professor in the departments of Psychology and Neurobiology, directs the university's Imaging Research Center, where researchers use functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging technology (fMRI) to study brain activity. He collaborated on the study with researchers at UCLA, including Jessica Cohen and Robert Asarnow.

In the study, participants ranging in age from eight to 30 performed a learning task in which they categorized an abstract image into one of two categories and were given feedback displaying the correct response. To ensure motivation, they were given monetary rewards for each correct answer.

What the researchers were most interested in, however, was how each participant's brain responded to "reward prediction error" (or the difference between an expected outcome of an action and the actual outcome) as they learned to categorize the images.

"Learning seems to rely on prediction error because if the world is exactly as you expected it to be, there is nothing new to learn. "

Poldrack said. Previous research has shown that the dopamine system in the brain is directly responsive to prediction errors.

Researchers measured so-called positive prediction error signals in the participants' brains as the participants discovered the results of their answers and the size of their rewards.

Teenagers showed the highest spikes in these prediction error signals, which likely means they had the largest dopamine response.

Dopamine is known to be important for the motivation to seek rewards. It follows, then, that the greater prediction error signals in the adolescent brain could result in increased motivation to acquire more positive outcomes, and therefore greater risk-taking.

Poldrack is confident future studies will further explore the biological reasons for stereotypical adolescent behavior. As to whether any study can absolve teens of blame for their antics, he said, "That's a question for the philosophers."


'/>"/>

Contact: Gary Susswein
susswein@austin.utexas.edu
512-471-4945
University of Texas at Austin
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Physical activity reduces the effect of the obesity gene in adolescents
2. Less sleep may add up to more pounds in adolescents
3. Playing a video game before bedtime has only a mild effect on adolescent sleep
4. New Research Demonstrates Gains in Emergent Reading Skills for Adolescents with Autism and Intellectual Disabilities
5. Adolescent drinking adds to risk of breast disease, breast cancer
6. Hey, thats my shirt! Sibling conflict harms trust and communication between adolescent siblings
7. Sleep problems and sleepiness increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents in adolescents
8. New Study Shows Nearly One Third of Overweight Adolescents See Themselves as Underweight or About Right
9. New Abstinence-Only Program for Young Adolescents: Policy Implications
10. Study examines sexual orientation and bullying among adolescents
11. Earlier bedtimes may help protect adolescents against depression and suicidal thoughts
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/27/2017)... ... February 27, 2017 , ... Hotze ... industry, announces Chris Brandl as its New Guest Director. , Brandl is ... corporations throughout his career. He began his professional career at Omnium Worldwide, now ...
(Date:2/27/2017)... ... February 27, 2017 , ... Much attention has been ... women who become dependent on opioid painkillers has fallen short. From 1999 until 2010, ... a 237% increase in fatal overdoses in male populations.(1) , The proportion of women ...
(Date:2/27/2017)... ... February 27, 2017 , ... Orange County dentist, ... inflammatory gum condition that occurs when the bacteria in plaque infect the gums and ... as a scaling and root planing or SRP, and can include surgical therapies if ...
(Date:2/27/2017)... ... February 27, 2017 , ... POUGHKEEPSIE, N. Y. – Peer-reviewed guidelines from the ... studies, the Center for Disease Control ( CDC ) and Infectious Diseases Society of ... Liegner, M.D. has compiled into a single volume a compelling argument that the disease ...
(Date:2/27/2017)... ... February 27, 2017 , ... Silicon Valley Hair ... announce a new informational post on robotic hair transplantation. San Francisco residents may ... transplant and Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) can sound similar. Either treatment can be ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/27/2017)... , Feb. 27, 2017   Royal ... PHIA), a global leader in health technology, today ... Drug Administration (FDA) to market its ElastQ Imaging ... family of ultrasound systems. ElastQ Imaging enables simultaneous ... which is essential for the diagnosis of various ...
(Date:2/27/2017)... PLACENTIA, Calif. , Feb. 27, 2017   ... new line of nutritional supplements using its groundbreaking new ... and 90 percent of potency through digestion per ... nutritional supplements solve the problem of nutritional waste and ... Prevent degradation during digestive processes Improve ...
(Date:2/27/2017)... FORT WASHINGTON, Pa. , Feb. 27, 2017  Impax Laboratories, Inc. (NASDAQ: ... the following upcoming investor conferences. Raymond James ... a.m. ET on March 6, 2017 in Orlando, FL. ... Care Conference at 8:00 a.m. ET on March 7, 2017 in ... at 8:30 a.m.ET on March 16, 2017 in Miami, FL. ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: