Study of the brain show that the learning in teens is reward-learning behavior compared to the adults.
Most studies conducted on the brain of teenagers is usually to prove the adverse effects of different scenarios in their life. Violent video games and drugs and their effects on the parts of the brain. Most studies focus on the negative effects of teens' reward-seeking behavior.
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Daphna Shohamy, PhD, a principal investigator at Columbia's Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute and associate professor of psychology at Columbia explained that their hypothesis for the study that they conducted contradicted that line of stud sating that this tendency may be tied to better learning.
In a research study involving 41 teens and 31 adults, the authors initially focused on a brain region called the striatum which is associated with coordination of many aspects of higher brain function.
The researchers used a combination of learning tasks and brain imaging in teens and adults, with which they identified patterns of brain activity in adolescents that support learning.
Juliet Davidow, PhD, the paper's first author, explained that the reinforcement learning is making a guess, being told whether you're right or wrong, and using that information to make a better guess next time. She added that the striatum shows activity that corresponds to that positive feedback, thus reinforcing your choice. So, it is a reward signal that helps the brain learn how to repeat the successful choice again.
The researchers found that the teens' inclination toward reward-seeking behavior, the researchers proposed that this age group would outpace adults in terms of reinforcement learning by showing a greater affinity for rewards. This hypothesis was confirmed after asking both groups to perform a series of learning tasks.
Adriana Galván, PhD. Dr. Galván, who is an associate professor of psychology and faculty member of the Brain Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, scanned the brains of each participant with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while they were performing the learning tasks. The authors hypothesized that the teens' superior abilities were due to a hyperactive striatum.
Dr. Davidow revealed that they discovered that the difference between adults and teens lay not in the striatum but in a nearby region: the hippocampus.
The researchers then conducted tests to verify their results and found that in the teens, the memory of the objects associated with reinforcement learning, an observation that was related to connectivity between the hippocampus and striatum in the teen brain.
The results of this research were published in Neuron.