I Want It Now! The Neuroscience of Teenage Impulsivity
What would you rather do on a hot summer day? Going to football practice or having ice-cream by the pool? The pool might be much more fun than going to –any- sports practice, so it may seem to be an easy choice. However, if you would often miss practice, your coach might not line you up at the next match, and you would not improve overall. In the light of these future consequences, attending practice might not look so bad after all. Yet, research shows that teenagers, more often than others, tend to follow their impulses rather than pursuing long-term goals. Why do teenagers have so much difficulty controlling their impulses? And how does this get better when you get older? We studied the developing brain and found that this depends on at least two different brain areas. Specifically, as you grow older, connections between these two brain areas get stronger: This helps you think about the future consequences of your actions, be less impulsive, and (maybe) also turn this into better decisions.