Thursday, August 27, 2009

Surprising find on brains of risky teens

From Scientific American:

"Thrill seeking and poor judgment go hand in hand when it comes to teenagers—an inevitable part of human development determined by properties of a growing but immature brain. Right? Not so fast. A new study published in PLoS One turns that thinking upside down: The brains of teens who behave dangerously are more like adult brains than are those of their more cautious peers. ...

"The findings by neuroscientists Gregory S. Berns and Sara Moore and economist Monica Capra of Emory University suggest that teen risk-taking is associated not with an immature brain but with a mature, adultlike brain—exactly the opposite of conventional wisdom. ...

"Reckless behavior might in fact be a sign of adultness. Some adults do risky things (speeding, drinking, having unprotected sex) quite commonly without causing great alarm. Automatically considering such behaviors to be more objectionable just because someone is young runs into what the researchers call in their paper "a conundrum of defining risk (or dangerousness) based not on the objective attributes of the activity but on the person engaging in them."

Read the full Scientific American article about the neuroeconomics research done at Emory's Center for Neuropolicy.

Read the Time magazine article on the Emory study: "The Teen Brain: The More Mature, the More Reckless."

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