ADOLESCENT DECISIONMAKING: STILL A MYSTERY
Scientists have proposed various theories to explain why adolescents are more likely than children or adults to make decisions that result in accidents, suicide, homicide, addiction, and other negative outcomes. According to one theory, the part of the brain that says, “That’ll feel good—go for it” matures before the part that says, “Hold on, there could be a downside here.” Another the- ory holds that these adolescents are trying to do what adults do, but before society is ready for them to be adults and before they have the experience and skills that enable adults to hedge the attendant dangers.
A recent NIDA-funded study lent support to the latter the- ory. Dr. C. Monica Capra and colleagues at the Emory School of Medicine in Atlanta found that, in brain development, adolescents who made risky decisions—about sex, glue sniff- ing, drinking and driving, and other activities—were more like adults than those who played it safer.