Scientists are presenting new research on how the brain develops during the dynamic and vulnerable transition period from childhood to adulthood. The findings underscore the uniqueness of adolescence, revealing factors that may influence depression, decision-making, learning, and social relationships.
The findings were presented at Neuroscience 2012, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.
The brain's "reward system," those brain circuits and structures that mediate the experience and pursuit of pleasure, figured prominently in several studies. The studies shed light on adolescents' ability to control impulsivity and think through problems; reveal physical changes in the "social brain;" document connections between early home life and brain function in adolescence; and examine the impact of diet on depressive-like behavior in rodents.
Today's new findings show that:
"Advances in neuroscience continue to delve deeper and deeper into the unique and dynamically changing biology of the adolescent brain," said press conference moderator Jay Giedd, MD, of the National Institute of Mental Health, an expert on childhood and adolescent brain development. "The insights are beginning to elucidate the mechanisms that make the teen years a time of particular vulnerabilities but also a time of great opportunity."
This research was supported by national funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health, as well as private and philanthropic organizations.
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