Author(s): Spear LP
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Abstract PURPOSE: The purpose of this article is to outline notable alterations occurring in the adolescent brain, and to consider potential ramifications of these developmental transformations for public policy and programs involving adolescents. METHODS: Developmental changes in the adolescent brain obtained from human imaging work are reviewed, along with results of basic science studies. RESULTS: Adolescent brain transformations include both progressive and regressive changes that are regionally specific and serve to refine brain functional connectivity. Along with still-maturing inhibitory control systems that can be overcome under emotional circumstances, the adolescent brain is associated with sometimes elevated activation of reward-relevant brain regions, whereas sensitivity to aversive stimuli may be attenuated. At this time, the developmental shift from greater brain plasticity early in life to the relative stability of the mature brain is still tilted more toward plasticity than seen in adulthood, perhaps providing an opportunity for some experience-influenced sculpting of the adolescent brain. CONCLUSIONS: Normal developmental transformations in brain reward/aversive systems, areas critical for inhibitory control, and regions activated by emotional, exciting, and stressful stimuli may promote some normative degree of adolescent risk taking. These findings have a number of potential implications for public policies and programs focused on adolescent health and well-being. Copyright © 2013 Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
This article was published in J Adolesc Health
and referenced in Biological Systems: Open Access