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  1. #1
    Minister of Propagandhi ajblaise's Avatar
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    Default Risk takers and drug users have faster maturing brains

    Interesting study, a lot of people assume the exact opposite. Looking back on who were the risk takers and drug users I've known, this makes sense to me. Faster developed brain = more interest in 'adult' activities before your peers. However at a later age, in the late 20s and 30s, this kind of behavior might be more associated with less developed brains.

    Risk-Taking Teens Have More Mature Brains

    We often hear that teens are irresponsible because their brains are immature. But, contradicting that idea, teen turmoil is completely absent in more than 100 cultures around the world. Nevertheless, neuroscience studies do indeed suggest that the gray matter in the frontal cortex of teens, as compared with adults, is not fully developed.

    Now a study by neuroscientist Gregory S. Berns and his colleagues at Emory University adds a new wrinkle to the gray matter findings, reporting that teens who are risk takers and drug users actually appear to have a more developed brain than their conservative peers.

    The Berns team assessed the risk-taking tendencies of 91 teens between the ages of 12 and 18 with a written test and a drug test. Then, using a relatively new MRI technology called diffusion tensor imaging, the researchers looked at the amount of white matter in the frontal cortex of the teens’ brains. White matter contains the protein myelin, which coats neurons’ spindly axons as they reach toward other areas of the brain. Myelin is important for efficient signaling between neurons, and it is known to grow considerably between childhood and adulthood.

    The investigators found that engaging in dangerous behaviors was associated with increased white matter, a result directly opposite to the gray matter findings. One possible interpretation: people whose brains mature early might be more prone to engage in adult activities. But Berns suggests that the entire teen brain idea might be overhyped. “Nobody denies that the brain develops or that teens take risks,” he says, “but how the two observations got intertwined is beyond me.”

    Developmental psychologist Laurence Steinberg of Temple University questions the significance of the new study. Other researchers have found a connection between increased white matter and reduced impulsivity, Steinberg explains, which could mean a reduced likelihood of risk taking—the opposite of the Berns finding. Renowned neuroscientist Michael S. Gazzaniga of the University of California, Santa Barbara, is more impressed. “So much for the much touted model of the teenage brain,” Gazzaniga says. “Back to the drawing boards again.”
    Risk-Taking Teens Have More Mature Brains: Scientific American

  2. #2
    Badoom~ Skyward's Avatar
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    Well risk-taking behavior also depends on the family life and the culture a person lives in.

    In General, teens want to be in control of themselves, and not rely on someone else, and also to leave a mark on the world. This leads to rebelliousness.

    In Finland, there are few daredevils like in the US. Mostly because there isn't such a huge individualist culture like in the US.

    In all, that's interesting. Now it isn't 'just' because a teenager's brain isn't as developed that makes them bad decision makers.
    'Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and its better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.' - Marilyn Monroe

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    Anthropology Major out of Hamline University. St. Paul, Minnesota.

  3. #3
    Senior Member bighairything's Avatar
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    I do remember thinking even as a teenager that the message that smoking was stupid was quite undermined by the fact that lot's of clever people smoked.

  4. #4
    Mud and rain and chaos... TickTock's Avatar
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    This makes sense.

  5. #5
    Mud and rain and chaos... TickTock's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TickTock View Post
    This makes sense.
    +1

  6. #6
    Senior Member NewEra's Avatar
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    Didn't reach a solid conclusion from that article. Keep in mind - all those hormones bouncing around in the teenager's body too.

  7. #7
    Geolectric teslashock's Avatar
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    Does a more "mature" brain imply a more clever, intelligent person? Or does it just imply more adult-like thought processes and thus more interest in "mature" activites?

    I could believe that clever, intelligent people would be interested in new experiences (taking risks and doing drugs). Both of these things may offer a new mental perspective that a more "intelligent" person values above traditional teenage hobbies. This theory is really only pertinent though if more mature = more intelligent.

  8. #8
    (blankpages) Xenon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by teslashock View Post
    Does a more "mature" brain imply a more clever, intelligent person? Or does it just imply more adult-like thought processes and thus more interest in "mature" activites?
    More the latter, as far as I know. I recall reading that mental sharpness, speed at picking up new ideas, is thought to peak before the brain is fully mature. Also, risk-taking behaviour has not been found to be related to intelligence, in either direction.

    Current thinking is that the brain continues to develop until the mid-twenties, and that this partially explains personality differences between teens and adults, such as risk-taking, emotional outbursts, poor judgment, etc.

    Just an idea: perhaps the cause-effect relationship is the reverse of what was suggested in the article? Meaning, maybe engaging in plenty of intense experiences somehow causes an increase in the white matter in the brain.

    It looks like the amount of white matter was the only thing observed, so we also don't know if this really signals early maturation, with everything that goes with it, or not.

  9. #9
    Senior Member tinkerbell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajblaise View Post
    Interesting study, a lot of people assume the exact opposite. Looking back on who were the risk takers and drug users I've known, this makes sense to me. Faster developed brain = more interest in 'adult' activities before your peers. However at a later age, in the late 20s and 30s, this kind of behavior might be more associated with less developed brains.



    Risk-Taking Teens Have More Mature Brains: Scientific American
    might be a chicken and egg factor...

    Kids who want to do drugs, would have brains that mature faster...

    Kids who are happy to grow up without stimulus are possbly more likely to mature in time....

    Also is there any indication of the benefits of a faster maturing brain....

  10. #10
    Alexander the Terrible yenom's Avatar
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    What do you mean by "maturing"?


    Doing drugs is a stupid choice and it always will be.
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