Departmental Papers (ASC)

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version

10-2017

Publication Source

Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

Volume

27

Start Page

19

Last Page

34

DOI

10.1016/j.dcn.2017.07.007

Abstract

Recent neuroscience models of adolescent brain development attribute the morbidity and mortality of this period to structural and functional imbalances between more fully developed limbic regions that subserve reward and emotion as opposed to those that enable cognitive control. We challenge this interpretation of adolescent development by distinguishing risk-taking that peaks during adolescence (sensation seeking and impulsive action) from risk taking that declines monotonically from childhood to adulthood (impulsive choice and other decisions under known risk). Sensation seeking is primarily motivated by exploration of the environment under ambiguous risk contexts, while impulsive action, which is likely to be maladaptive, is more characteristic of a subset of youth with weak control over limbic motivation. Risk taking that declines monotonically from childhood to adulthood occurs primarily under conditions of known risks and reflects increases in executive function as well as aversion to risk based on increases in gist-based reasoning. We propose an alternative Lifespan Wisdom Model that highlights the importance of experience gained through exploration during adolescence. We propose, therefore, that brain models that recognize the adaptive roles that cognition and experience play during adolescence provide a more complete and helpful picture of this period of development.

Copyright/Permission Statement

This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/BY/4.0/).

Keywords

brain development, dopamine, decision-making, cognitive control, experience

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Date Posted: 22 December 2017

This document has been peer reviewed.