A recent study led by UO professor Atika Khurana has drawn wide attention for its findings on cognitive control among adolescents and future issues in adulthood such as addiction.
Khurana and her colleagues discovered that only some children who engage in dangerous behaviors in adolescence are prone to develop issues later in adulthood.
"People have heard so much about the teenage brain being all gas and no brakes, stemming from an imbalance between the reward and control regions of the brain," Khurana said. "This study shows that this is not true. There is an imbalance for some youth, but it is not universal."
The study measured changes in things such as impulsivity and sensation seeking, common indicators of future substance abuse in adolescents, from adolescents to adulthood in 387 Philadelphia children aged 11-18.
“Only adolescents identified at the beginning of the study with weaknesses in cognitive control were at risk for impulsive action that put them at higher risk for substance abuse,” the article says. “The findings challenge the traditional thinking that adolescence is a time of universal imbalance.”
The article concludes by discussing how the research can be used for earlier intervention in troubled adolescents.
To read the full article, see “Most teens do have, and use, behavioral brakes.”