Uneven Brain Growth Might Be Behind Risky Behavior in Adolescents
Every parent knows that no two children are alike. So you’re wondering why your adolescent children take more risks as compared to the others but you have no explanation? Look no further. Scientists have discovered that in adolescents, the two centers of the brain; the one that makes them want to take risks as well as the other which works on preventing them from acting on these impulses, physically develop at different rates. It is reported that adolescents who have bigger differences in the rates of development of these two centers are much more likely to be risk-takers as compared to those with smaller differences.
This study was carried out by Curtis Johnson, a Biomedical Engineer from the University of Delaware and a graduate student, Grace McIIvain. The details of their study are explored below.
The socioemotional system refers to the part of the brain that compels adolescents to want to take risks while the cognitive control center is the part that helps stop them from acting on the said impulses.
As we previously mentioned above, the two centers mature at different rates. Researchers hypothesize that the fundamental structure of the brain manages the control and risk-taking tendencies.
The study used Magnetic Resonance Elastography to measure the brain tissues’ mechanical properties as a way to evaluate brain development. Elastography is a technique of imaging mechanical features of tissues using an MRI scanner. In layman’s language, scientists take snapshots showing how the brain bends as it vibrates under low frequencies. The images are then put through an algorithm that reverse engineers what is happening. If you are skeptical about safety, Johnson insists that MRE vibration is safe for individuals of all ages and as compared to the natural movement in the brain, it causes minimal movement. Additionally, it offers a lower vibration than other designated child devices.
MRE methods have also been used in adults to study diseases like Alzheimer’s, with research findings indicating relationships between cognitive performance and memory. These techniques are said to offer a more sensitive and objective way to study the wiring of an individual’s brain.
Johnson asserts that if they can point out individuals, based on their brain’s composition, that are more likely to take risks, it may help form prevention strategies.
Moreover, McIIvain added that equipped with the full understanding of the brain’s mechanical properties in an individual who has autism, they would be a step closer towards finding a way to accurately diagnose autism. This research is likely to be of great interest to entities like DarioHealth Corp. (NASDAQ: DRIO) who have an interest in using digital solutions to address health problems.