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‘Stress is more stressful for teens than adults’

Brains of teens react differently,especially under stress or while making risky decisions.

Written by Agencies | Washington |
June 22, 2011 7:53:30 pm

Parents often feel stressed out over their adolescents’ poor choices,but a new study has found that teens may be even more tense than adults. Researchers at the University of California in Los Angeles found that brains of teens are actually different from those of adults and they react differently,especially under stress or while making risky decisions.

“Teenagers experience stress as more stressful,” study researcher Adriana Galvan was quoted as saying by LiveScience.

“If that stress is interfering with their decision making,it’s really important to understand the neural mechanism that’s underlying this connection between high levels of stress and poor decision making.”

Galvan has been scanning teenagers’ brains to get a better understanding of their stress levels,thought processes and decision-making abilities.

For the research,appeared in ScienceNatio,Galvan and her team carried out brain scans of teens — when they had have an extraordinarily stressful day — to see exactly what’s happening and to test how they make decisions.

“The teenagers show more activation in the reward system than adults when making risky choices,and they are also making more risky choices than adults are,” Galvan said.

This difference is probably due to changes in a brain region called the prefrontal cortex,the area of the brain that helps regulate behaviour,including understanding future consequences of one’s actions.

“In teenagers,this area is immature,which is why teens often seem to act without fully understanding the consequences,” Galvan said.

“When you are stressed out as a teenager,it’s interfering with your ability to make decisions,” she said.

Knowing this deficiency is half the battle,Galvan said,suggesting that teens can lower their stress and risky decision-making by taking a minute to think about the consequences of their actions.

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