Scientists from the National Institute of Mental Health are using magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI, to know how the brains of teenagers function differently than those of adults. The researchers have said that the brain continues to develop structurally through adolescence and on into adulthood.

High emotionality is a characteristic of adolescents and researchers are trying to understand how ‘emotional areas’ of the brain differ between adults and adolescents.

The researchers studied the amygdala, the major emotional centre in the brain, which undergoes structural reorganization during adolescence, for which they examined emotional learning in both juvenile and adult mice.

“Our work on the amygdala revealed that the neuronal pathways that carry sensory information to the amygdala directly, bypassing cortex, are more plastic in the juvenile than in adult mice,” explained senior author Dr. Alexei Morozov.

He concluded that “this finding suggests that emotional behaviours in adolescence are less precise and more irrational because they are driven more by sub-cortical than by cortical structures.” The study has been published in the latest issue of Elsevier’s Biological Psychiatry.

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