How risk-taking changes a teenager's brain | Kashfia Rahman
TED Talks Daily
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How can so many teens be so smart, skilled, responsible, and careless risk-takers at the same time? 01:09

Rahman noticed from her peers that the more teenagers exposed themselves to harmful risks, the easier it became for them to continue taking risks.


How did Rahman conduct her experiment on her peers? 06:07

Rahman conducted her study with 86 students that were required to wear electroencephalogram headsets (EEG) and had them take a simulation test regarding alcohol use, drug use, and gambling 12 times over 3 days to mimic risk exposures. The controls on the EEG headset measured and rated their emotional responses, which gave Rahman her data.


How does habituation affect the rise of risk-taking in teenagers? 07:12

Habituation can change a teen’s brain by altering their emotional levels, which causes greater risk taking. Emotions that were normally associated with risks are what prevented teens from taking risks. More exposure lessened the brain’s natural instincts of caution and fear. Due to the underdeveloped brain at this age, teenagers became more interested and enticed with thrill-seeking behaviors.


For teenagers, what were the consequences of risk-taking? 08:06

They lacked self-control for logical decision-making, took greater risks, and made more harmful choices.


What did Rashman’s study reveal? 09:30

These results should be a wakeup call for teens because it showed that the natural and necessary fear and guilt that protected teens from unsafe situations became numb when they repeatedly choose risky behaviors.

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