Teen Behavior Reflects Teen Brain

The reward center in an adolescent's brain is not fully developed and is not as responsive as the reward center in adults. This may explain why teens are more apt to drink too much alcohol, use drugs or engage in unsafe sex, because these foolhardy activities require little effort for what seems like a greater reward.

Comment: It is one thing for all of us to know the teen brain is different. And it is remarkable that there is lower activation of the right ventral striatum centered in the nucleus accumbens. But WHAT DO WE DO about how our teenager (or someone else's) is behaving these days?

Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D.
Frederick Hecht, M.D.
Medical Editors, MedicineNet.com

For related information on teens, please visit the MedicineNet.com Teen Center.

Adolescent Brains Show Reduced Reward Anticipation

Adolescents show less activity than adults in brain regions that motivate behavior to obtain rewards, according to results from the first magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study to examine real-time adolescent response to incentives. The study also shows that adolescents and adults exhibit similar brain responses to having obtained rewards.

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