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Teenagers'brainconnections'makethemlearndifferently'
3hoursago Health

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Teenagersareoftenportrayedasthrillseekers,butresearchsuggeststheirbrainsare
wiredtolearnfromtheirexperiences,whichmakesthembetterpreparedforadulthood.
Inasmallstudy,theyperformedbetterthanadultsatapicturebasedgameandbrainscans
showedahigherlevelofbrainactivity.
Researcherssaidtheroleofthehippocampusinthebrainwaskey.
Andtheysaidthefindingscouldpointtonewwaysofteachingteenagers.
Theresearchteam,fromHarvard,ColumbiaandCaliforniauniversities,setouttotestwhether
adolescents'typicalrewardseekingbehaviourcouldalsomakethembetteratlearningfrom
goodorbadoutcomes.

Rightorwrong
Theyasked41teenagers,aged13to17,and31adults,aged20to30,toplayagamebasedon
pictureswhilescanningsomeofeachgroup'sbrainsusingMRI.

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Teenagers'brainconnections'makethemlearndifferently'BBCNews

Inthegame,theteenagersgotmoreanswerscorrectandmemorytestsshowedtheywerealso
betteratrememberingthedetailofwhytheychosetheanswerstheydid.
Thestudysaidthismeanttheywerebetteratlearningfromtheirexperienceswhichwould
equipthemwellforleavinghomeandgainingindependenceasadults.
Whentheylookedattheteenagers'brainscans,theresearchersfoundactivityintwoareasof
thebrainthehippocampusandthestriatumwhereasadultsmainlyusedtheirstriatum.
Theysaidtheseconnectionsbetweentwoimportantpartsofthegrowingbrainexplainedwhy
theyperformedbetter.

SPL

Whatisthehippocampus?
Oftenreferredtoasthebrain'smemoryheadquarters,itisaseahorseshapedcollectionofcells
inthemiddleofthebrainwhichstoresandsortsmemoriesandisalsolinkedtotheabilityto
navigatefromoneplacetoanother.

Whatisthestriatum?
Itisanareaofthebraininvolvedinplanninganddecisionmaking,whichisalsoimportantfor
linkingactionandreward.
Thepartplayedbythehippocampustoreinforcelearningduringadolescencehadnotbeen
recognisedbefore,thestudyinNeuronsaid.
Itisthoughttoplayakeyroleintheformationofpowerfulmemoriesduringanimportantstagein
life.
JulietDavidow,apsychologyresearcheratHarvardUniversity,saidthefindingscouldinspire
newwaysofteachingteenagers.
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Teenagers'brainconnections'makethemlearndifferently'BBCNews

"Ifyouframesomethingpositively,itcouldbethecasethatadolescentswillrememberthings
aboutthelearningexperiencebetter.
"Ineverydaylife,they'repayingattentiontotheirenvironmentinawaythatisdifferentfrom
adults."
Theresearchersarenowlookingatwhatothersituationsorexperiencesactivatethislink
betweenthestriatumandhippocampusinteenagebrains.

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