Teenage Brains Are Set Up to Seek Pleasure with Disregard for Consequences

By Staff Writer

Adolescent brains may be wired to seek rewarding stimulus, such as drugs, without concern for consequences, according to a new study from the University of Pittsburgh.

The findings may help explain why a majority of drug addictions begin developing during an individual’s teenage years. Drug rehab experts have long noted that many substance abusers started experimenting in their adolescence.

For the study, researchers scanned the mental activity of adolescent and adult mice as they were given stimuli. When the mice were provided food, the brains of the adults remained relatively calm. However, activity in the brains of younger subjects became frenetic. Additionally, inhibitory processes remained mostly calm in the brains of adolescents.

The researchers said that their findings show how the reward effect may play a larger role in the decision-making processes of adolescents. Rather than thinking about consequences, younger individuals may often focus on the expected reward.

This could put them at a greater risk of developing substance abuse problems that eventually require help from drug rehab facilities.