Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Teenage Risk-taking: Teenage Brains Really Are Different From Child Or Adult Brains

Date:
March 30, 2008
Source:
Elsevier Health Sciences
Summary:
Many parents are convinced that the brains of their teenage offspring are different than those of children and adults. New data confirms that this is the case. A new article describes how brain changes in the adolescent brain impact cognition, emotion and behavior.

Many parents are convinced that the brains of their teenage offspring are different than those of children and adults. New data confirms that this is the case. An article by Jay N. Giedd, MD, of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), published in Journal of Adolescent Health describes how brain changes in the adolescent brain impact cognition, emotion and behavior.

Dr. Giedd reviews the results from the NIMH Longitudinal Brain Imaging Project. This study and others indicate that gray matter increases in volume until approximately the early teens and then decreases until old age. Pinning down these differences in a rigorous way had been elusive until MRI was developed, offering the capacity to provide extremely accurate quantifications of brain anatomy and physiology without the use of ionizing radiation.

Writing in the article, Dr. Giedd comments, "Adolescence is a time of substantial neurobiological and behavioral change, but the teen brain is not a broken or defective adult brain. The adaptive potential of the overproduction/selective elimination process, increased connectivity and integration of disparate brain functions, changing reward systems and frontal/limbic balance, and the accompanying behaviors of separation from family of origin, increased risk taking, and increased sensation seeking have been highly adaptive in our past and may be so in our future. These changes and the enormous plasticity of the teen brain make adolescence a time of great risk and great opportunity."

In an accompanying editorial, Elizabeth R. McAnarney MD, Department of Pediatrics, University of Rochester Medical Center, comments, "Finally neuroscientists are able to go under the '...leathery membrane, surrounded by a protective moat of fluid, and completely encased in bone...' to provide new insights into brain development. Changes in the brain during childhood and adolescent development that are being documented through exquisite imaging by Giedd and others hold the promise for the development of hypotheses about the potential origins of behaviors that we have observed clinically for years...."

"Novelty seeking/sensation seeking and risk taking," Dr. McAnarney continues, "is the basis for considerable growth during adolescence, as well as for the seemingly reckless behavior of some adolescents. Novelty seeking/sensation seeking and risk taking are topics of growing interest as adolescent brain development is defined better and as morbidity from adolescent risk taking mounts....The implication of our growing knowledge of brain--behavior mechanisms of adolescent conditions should provide insights into the risk of particular adolescents for morbidity and mortality. Preliminary data are promising so that as we begin to understand the complexity of and specificity of each of these conditions, we shall be able to diagnose and treat conditions earlier."

The NIMH Longitudinal Brain Imaging Project began in 1989. Participants visit the NIMH at approximately two-year intervals for brain imaging, neuropsychological and behavioral assessment and collection of DNA. As of September 2007, approximately 5000 scans from 2000 subjects have been acquired. Of these, 387 subjects, aged 3 to 27 years, have remained free of any psychopathology and serve as the models for typical brain development.

Three themes have emerged from this and other studies in this new era of adolescent neuroscience. The first is functional and structural increases in connectivity and integrative processing as distributed brain modules become more and more integrated. Using a literary metaphor, maturation would not be the addition of new letters but rather of combining earlier formed letters into words, and then words into sentences and then sentences into paragraphs.

The second is a general pattern of childhood peaks of gray matter (frontal lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobe and occipital lobe) followed by adolescent declines. As parts of the brain are overdeveloped and then discarded, the structure of the brain becomes more refined.

The third theme is a changing balance between limbic/subcortical and frontal lobe functions that extends well into young adulthood as different cognitive and emotional systems mature at different rates. The cognitive and behavioral changes taking place during adolescence may be understood from the perspective of increased "executive" functioning, a term encompassing a broad array of abilities, including attention, response inhibition, regulation of emotion, organization and long-range planning.

The article is "The Teen Brain: Insights from Neuroimaging" by Jay N. Giedd, MD. The editorial is "Adolescent Brain Development: Forging New Links?" by Elizabeth R. McAnarney, MD. Both appear in the Journal of Adolescent Health, Volume 42, Issue 4 (April 2008) published by Elsevier.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Elsevier Health Sciences. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Elsevier Health Sciences. "Teenage Risk-taking: Teenage Brains Really Are Different From Child Or Adult Brains." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 March 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080328112127.htm>.
Elsevier Health Sciences. (2008, March 30). Teenage Risk-taking: Teenage Brains Really Are Different From Child Or Adult Brains. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080328112127.htm
Elsevier Health Sciences. "Teenage Risk-taking: Teenage Brains Really Are Different From Child Or Adult Brains." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080328112127.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Food Addiction Might Be Caused By PTSD

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) New research shows that women who suffer from PTSD are three times more likely to develop a food addiction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

Corporal Punishment on Decline, Debate Renews

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Corporal punishment in the United States is on the decline, but there is renewed debate over its use after Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was charged with child abuse. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins