Earlier Development of the Accumbens Relative to Orbitofrontal Cortex Might Underlie Risk-Taking Behavior in Adolescents
ABSTRACT Adolescence has been characterized by risk-taking behaviors that can lead to fatal outcomes. This study examined the neurobiological development of neural systems implicated in reward-seeking behaviors. Thirty-seven participants (7-29 years of age) were scanned using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging and a paradigm that parametrically manipulated reward values. The results show exaggerated accumbens activity, relative to prefrontal activity in adolescents, compared with children and adults, which appeared to be driven by different time courses of development for these regions. Accumbens activity in adolescents looked like that of adults in both extent of activity and sensitivity to reward values, although the magnitude of activity was exaggerated. In contrast, the extent of orbital frontal cortex activity in adolescents looked more like that of children than adults, with less focal patterns of activity. These findings suggest that maturing subcortical systems become disproportionately activated relative to later maturing top-down control systems, biasing the adolescent's action toward immediate over long-term gains.
SourceAvailable from: Frank Haist
Chapter: Brain and Cognitive DevelopmentHandbook of Child Psychology and Developmental Neuroscience, Cognitive Processes, 7 edited by Lerner R.M., Liben L.S., Mueller U., 01/2015: chapter 2: pages 9-62; Wiley., ISBN: 9781118136782
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Prior studies have highlighted adolescence as a period of increased risk-taking, which is postulated to result from an overactive reward system in the brain. Longitudinal studies are pivotal for testing these brain-behavior relations because individual slopes are more sensitive for detecting change. The aim of the current study was twofold: (1) to test patterns of age-related change (i.e., linear, quadratic, and cubic) in activity in the nucleus accumbens, a key reward region in the brain, in relation to change in puberty (self-report and testosterone levels), laboratory risk-taking and self-reported risk-taking tendency; and (2) to test whether individual differences in pubertal development and risk-taking behavior were contributors to longitudinal change in nucleus accumbens activity. We included 299 human participants at the first time point and 254 participants at the second time point, ranging between ages 8-27 years, time points were separated by a 2 year interval. Neural responses to rewards, pubertal development (self-report and testosterone levels), laboratory risk-taking (balloon analog risk task; BART), and self-reported risk-taking tendency (Behavior Inhibition System/Behavior Activation System questionnaire) were collected at both time points. The longitudinal analyses confirmed the quadratic age pattern for nucleus accumbens activity to rewards (peaking in adolescence), and the same quadratic pattern was found for laboratory risk-taking (BART). Nucleus accumbens activity change was further related to change in testosterone and self-reported reward-sensitivity (BAS Drive). Thus, this longitudinal analysis provides new insight in risk-taking and reward sensitivity in adolescence: (1) confirming an adolescent peak in nucleus accumbens activity, and (2) underlining a critical role for pubertal hormones and individual differences in risk-taking tendency. Copyright © 2015 the authors 0270-6474/15/357226-13$15.00/0.The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 05/2015; 35(18):7226-38. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4764-14.2015 · 6.75 Impact Factor
[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Numerous questions surround the nature of reward processing in the developing adolescent brain, particularly in regard to polysubstance use. We therefore sought to examine incentive-elicited brain activation in the context of three common substances of abuse (cannabis, tobacco, and alcohol). Due to the role of the nucleus accumbens (NAcc) in incentive processing, we compared activation in this region during anticipation of reward and loss using a Monetary Incentive Delay (MID) task. Adolescents (ages 14-18; 66% male) were matched on age, gender and frequency of use of any common substances within six distinct groups: cannabis-only (n = 14), tobacco-only (n = 34), alcohol-only (n = 12), cannabis + tobacco (n = 17), cannabis + tobacco + alcohol (n = 17), and non-using controls (n = 38). All groups showed comparable behavioral performance on the MID task. The tobacco-only group showed decreased bilateral nucleus accumbens (NAcc) activation during reward anticipation as compared to the alcohol-only group, the control group, and both polysubstance groups. Interestingly, no differences emerged between the cannabis-only group and any of the other groups. Results from this study suggest that youth who tend toward single-substance tobacco use may possess behavioral and/or neurobiological characteristics that differentiate them from both their substance-using and non-substance-using peers.Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience 05/2015; 36. DOI:10.1016/j.dcn.2015.05.005 · 3.71 Impact Factor