Kids brains make them more prepared to take risks for financial rewards

A new study shows that teens have a hyper motivated brain when it comes to receiving rewards and this makes them more prone to taking more risks than adults when it comes to gambling. A study that was published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science shows that adult brains do not have so much activity going on during gambling games where money was at stake, as compared to teens.

Adriana Galvan the study’s author, is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles and has said that receiving or anticipating a reward, especially a financial one, causes a strong activity in a brain area known as the ventral striatum.

For the study, Galvan and her associates examined brain cell activity in the brains of 22 teens and 19 adults utilising functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) while the participants in the study played gambling games that encompassed true monetary rewards in which the final wins never totalled to more than $40.The average age of the adults was 28 while the teenagers were 13 to 17 years.

The teenagers and adults were required to perform betting tasks in which in each trial the participant could either accept or reject a bet that had a 50 % chance of resulting in a loss or a 50 % chance of ending in a win and all this was based on chance but not skill.

The functional magnetic resonance imaging images observed activity in the brain when the participants were betting, and the authors stated that there was more activity in the ventral striatum in teens than in the adults. Galvan said that the increased activity in the brain in the teenagers suggested that they treasured the expected payment than the adults did and that this was seen while they were doing trials in which the two age groups accepted the same bets.