Brain development and risk taking during adolescence

Implications for prevention of antisocial behavior

Authored by: Daniel Romer , Atika Khurana

The Routledge International Handbook of Biosocial Criminology

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415722131
eBook ISBN: 9781315858449
Adobe ISBN: 9781317936749


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Recent structural brain imaging (magnetic resonance imaging, MRI) studies have produced detailed pictures of the brain from infancy to adulthood, revealing striking patterns of maturation that continue well into the third decade of life (Giedd et al., 1999). In particular, beginning in the second decade of life, grey matter volume, composed of neurons and their interconnections, starts to decline, while white matter, the insulating material that encases neuronal connections, starts to increase. These changes reflect the impact of early experiences, as unused neuronal connections are selectively pruned, while those that remain are fortified to allow greater speed of transmission. The result is a more efficient but focused brain that can make decisions in a speedy manner, especially those that have been encountered in the past (Spear, 2010).

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