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).
As a result of scientific research, we know that addiction is a disease that affects both brain and behavior.