Teenagers are particularly susceptible to dangerous activities during adolescence, which is characterized by fearless exploration, synaptic pruning, optimized neuronal connections, and a heightened reward system.
Adolescence is a time of remarkable brain development, according to Beatriz Luna, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Teenagers, like Leo, a skateboarder, possess an open and creative mindset, allowing them to fearlessly explore new experiences. During adolescence, the brain undergoes synaptic pruning, a process of eliminating unnecessary neural connections. It also optimizes and strengthens the remaining connections through myelination. While there are some sex differences in brain circuits and behavior, the transformative changes in the brain during adolescence are influenced by a combination of genetics, hormones, and social factors. Adolescents, both humans and chimpanzees, exhibit a propensity for risk-taking, driven by the increased production and sensitivity to dopamine in the brain. However, this heightened reward system can also make adolescents susceptible to harmful behaviors, such as substance abuse. As teenagers transition into adulthood, their brain’s focus shifts, and they become more attuned to the consequences of their actions.