Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Why adolescents are more impatient than adults

23.06.2015

Study shows structural and functional differences in the brain: Would you rather have €20 now or €50 in a month? Adolescents faced with this question often yield to the impulse to take the immediate reward rather than waiting for the bigger one.

Researchers at Stanford University, the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, and the University of California, Davis, have investigated why it is so difficult for adolescents to resist short-term temptations by studying the underlying brain mechanisms. The results of their study have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS).

Adolescents given the choice between a small reward right away and a bigger reward later tend to choose the immediate, smaller reward. Why? Because they are less able than adults to focus on the possible future benefit of the options. As a result, they tend to be more impatient and to opt for immediate rewards rather than pursuing long-term goals.

In their study, the researchers found that adolescents’ impatience is associated with a change in both brain structure and functioning. The researchers asked 50 participants aged between 8 and 25 years to complete a decision task. Participants had to decide whether to take a small payment immediately or a larger payment later. During the decision task, the activity and structural connectivity of brain regions known to be activated in decision making were measured using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

The results of the study show that it was difficult for the adolescents to wait for the larger payment. The brain imaging results reveal why. The structural connections between two key areas activated during decision making are not yet as strong in adolescents as they are in adults.

These two areas are the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex – which is activated by tasks such as planning for the future – and the striatum, which is part of the reward evaluation system. Due to the lower connection strength, the influence of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex on reward evaluation is relatively limited in adolescence, which is why larger but later options appear less appealing and impulsivity prevails.

“It’s not that adolescents don’t plan for the future at all. But when they make decisions, they focus much more on the here and now. Adolescence is a training ground for the brain. Although it’s more difficult for adolescents to decide against short-term rewards, they are capable of doing so,” says Wouter van den Bos, lead author of the study and researcher in the Center for Adaptive Rationality at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.

With increasing age, however, the connections between the two areas of the brain become stronger, and future goals come to play a more important role in our decisions. As a result, adolescents gradually learn to curb their impatience and to take a more forward-looking approach. “All the same, it’s important not to take decisions completely out of adolescents’ hands,” says van den Bos. “The brain learns from mistakes, and needs opportunities to do so. What we can do is to keep reminding adolescents of their longer-term goals,” says van den Bos.

In future studies, the researchers want to find out to what extent the social environment influences adolescents’ decisions.

Background Information

Original study
van den Bos, W., Rodriguez, C., Schweitzer, J. B., & McClure, S. M. (2015). Adolescent impatience decreases with increased fronto-striatal connectivity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA.
doi: 10.1073/pnas.1423095112

Max Planck Institute for Human Development
The Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin was founded in 1963. It is an interdisciplinary research institution dedicated to the study of human development and education. The Institute belongs to the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, one of the leading organizations for basic research in Europe.

Weitere Informationen:

https://www.mpib-berlin.mpg.de/en/media/2015/06/why-adolescents-are-more-impatie...

Kerstin Skork | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland

nachricht Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

When Air is in Short Supply - Shedding light on plant stress reactions when oxygen runs short

23.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics

23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles

23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>