Teens May Be More Sensitive to Dopamine Release, Study Suggests

A small research study indicates that the teenagers may experience the release of the brain's pleasure-and-reward chemical dopamine more acutely than children or adults, the Australian Associated Press reported May 17.

Researchers said the findings could help explain why teens are more prone to risk-taking than people of other ages.

The study by UCLA researcher Jessica Cohen and colleagues involved 45 subject who were offered cash rewards for correctly performing a task. MRI scans showed that the dopamine-sensitive striatal area of the brains of the 14- to 19-year-olds in the study group “lit up” more strongly than those of other age groups when the reward was given.

The research was published online in the journal Nature Neuroscience.

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