Teens have highest appetite for risk taking

The University College London (UCL) study found teenagers enjoy the thrill of dangerous situations more than others — with 14 year-olds the biggest culprits. “The onset of adolescence marks an explosion in ‘risky’ activities — from dangerous driving, unsafe sex and experimentation with alcohol, to poor dietary habits and physical inactivity,” said Dr Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, a UCL neuroscientist and the co-author of the study.

“This contributes to the so-called ‘health paradox’ of adolescence, whereby a peak in lifetime physical health is paradoxically accompanied by high mortality and morbidity.”
The researchers asked 86 participants, aged nine to 35, to play computer games during which they made decisions in order to win points. After each game, scientists measured their emotional response with the outcome.

As per to Dr Stephanie Burnett, a neuroscientist at UCL, in adolescence our brains are still developing, particularly the dopamine system which helps us feel pleasure and reward.

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