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Study: Altruistic adolescents less likely to become depressed
Date:4/24/2014

ressive symptoms would worsen or lessen over time.

"If they show higher levels of reward activation in the ventral striatum in the context of the risk-taking task, they show increases in depressive symptoms over time," said Telzer, who also is a professor in the Beckman Institute at Illinois. "And if they show higher reward activation in the pro-social context, they show declines in depression.

"This study suggests that if we can somehow redirect adolescents away from risk-taking or self-centered rewards and toward engaging in these more pro-social behaviors, then perhaps that can have a positive impact on their well-being over time," she said.

Previous studies have focused most on negative outcomes linked to ventral striatum activation and risk-taking in adolescence, Telzer said. The new findings demonstrate that ventral striatum activation also may have a positive role in the adolescent brain. The social context within which a young person feels rewarded may matter more than the feeling itself at least in terms of his or her mental health and sense of well-being over time, she said.

"What's exciting about this is that the very same area of the brain can predict both detriments to well-being and protection of well-being," Telzer said. "It depends on the context in which it's happening."

The study team included researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles.


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Contact: Diana Yates
diya@illinois.edu
217-333-5802
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Source:Eurekalert  

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Study: Altruistic adolescents less likely to become depressed
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