Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain study: Adolescents' brains respond differently than adults' when anticipating rewards

Date:
January 17, 2012
Source:
University of Pittsburgh
Summary:
Teenagers are more susceptible to developing disorders like addiction and depression, according to a new article.

Teenagers are more susceptible to developing disorders like addiction and depression, according to a paper recently published by Pitt researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

The study was led by Bita Moghaddam, coauthor of the paper and a professor of neuroscience in Pitt's Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. She and coauthor David Sturman, a MD/PhD student in Pitt's Medical Scientist Training Program, compared the brain activity of adolescents and adults in rats involved in a task in which they anticipated a reward. The researchers found increased brain cell activity in the adolescent rats' brains in an unusual area: the dorsal striatum (DS) -- a site commonly associated with habit formation, decision-making, and motivated learning. The adult rats' DS areas, on the other hand, did not become activated by an anticipated reward.

"The brain region traditionally associated with reward and motivation, called the nucleus accumbens, was activated similarly in adults and adolescents," said Moghaddam. "But the unique sensitivity of adolescent DS to reward anticipation indicates that, in this age group, reward can tap directly into a brain region that is critical for learning and habit formation."

Typically, researchers study the correlation between different behaviors of adolescents and adults. The Pitt team, however, used a method they call "behavioral clamping" to study if the brains of adolescents process the same behavior differently. To that end, the researchers implanted electrodes into different regions of rat adolescent and adult brains, allowing the researchers to study the reactions of both individual neurons and the sum of the neurons', or "population," activity.

The researchers' predictions proved accurate. Even though the behavior was the same for both adult and adolescent rats, the researchers observed age-related neural response differences that were especially dramatic in the DS during reward anticipation. This shows that not only is reward expectancy processed differently in an adolescent brain, but also it can affect brain regions directly responsible for decision-making and action selection.

"Adolescence is a time when the symptoms of most mental illnesses -- such as schizophrenia and bipolar and eating disorders -- are first manifested, so we believe that this is a critical period for preventing these illnesses," Moghaddam said. "A better understanding of how adolescent brain processes reward and decision-making is critical for understanding the basis of these vulnerabilities and designing prevention strategies."

The Pitt team will continue to compare adolescent and adult behavior, especially as it relates to stimulants -- such as amphetamines -- and their influence on brain activity.

The National Institute of Mental Health funded this project.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Pittsburgh. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. D. A. Sturman, B. Moghaddam. Striatum processes reward differently in adolescents versus adults. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012; 109 (5): 1719 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1114137109

Cite This Page:

University of Pittsburgh. "Brain study: Adolescents' brains respond differently than adults' when anticipating rewards." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 January 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120117144320.htm>.
University of Pittsburgh. (2012, January 17). Brain study: Adolescents' brains respond differently than adults' when anticipating rewards. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120117144320.htm
University of Pittsburgh. "Brain study: Adolescents' brains respond differently than adults' when anticipating rewards." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120117144320.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
App Fights Jet Lag With The Power Of Math

App Fights Jet Lag With The Power Of Math

Newsy (Apr. 13, 2014) Researchers at the University of Michigan have designed an app to fight jet lag by adjusting your body's light intake. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Treatment Gaps Endangering Cops, Mentally Ill

Treatment Gaps Endangering Cops, Mentally Ill

AP (Apr. 10, 2014) As states slash funding for mental health services, police officers are interacting more than ever with people suffering from schizophrenia and other serious disorders of the mind. The consequences can be deadly. (April 10) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Teen Drinking Rates Linked To Alcohol Mentions In Pop Music

Teen Drinking Rates Linked To Alcohol Mentions In Pop Music

Newsy (Apr. 9, 2014) A University of Pittsburgh study found pop music that mentions alcohol is linked to higher drinking rates among teens. 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