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NIDA

Addiction Science: From Molecules to Managed Care

Adolescents' brains are "wired" differently than those of adults.

Adolescents' brains are

Because the prefrontal cortex is one of the last areas of the brain to mature, adolescents tend to use other areas of the brain – in this case emotional areas – when making decisions. For example, brain activity, seen here via functional MRI, shows that when judging emotion represented on a face, a teenager’s amygdala (right) is activated. Activity in the amygdala during this task likely reflects more of a gut reaction than a reasoned one. In contrast, the prefrontal cortex, involved in reasoning and reflection is activated in the adult brain (shown on the left).

This page was last updated July 2008