Secrets of teenager’s ability to learn

Secrets of teenager’s ability to learn

Secrets of teenager’s ability to learn. A teenager’s ability to learn and form memories is closely linked to the reward-seeking behavior of the brain, researchers have found.

Secrets of teenager’s ability to learn

“Studies of the adolescent brain often focus on the negative effects of teenagers‘ reward-seeking behavior,” said Daphna Shohamy, Associate Professor of psychology at New York’s Columbia University.

However, the study found that this tendency may be tied to better learning with a critical feature of adolescence and the maturing brain.

“We identified patterns of brain activity in adolescents that support learning — serving to guide them into adulthood successfully,” Shohamy added.

The team involved 41 teenagers and 31 adults in order to study. They scanned the brains of each participant with functional magnetic resonance imaging while they were performing the learning tasks.

The fMRI analysis revealed an uptick in hippocampal (brain’s memory center) activity for teenagers — but not adults during the reinforcement learning, a reward signal which helps the brain learn how to repeat the successful choice again.

Again, that activity seemed to be tightly coordinated with activity in the striatum — a critical component of the brain’s reward system.

The researchers slipped in random and irrelevant pictures of objects into the learning tasks, such as a globe or a pencil.

When asked later on, adults and teens both remembered seeing some of the objects. However, only in the teenagers the memory of the objects was associated with reinforcement learning.

“The findings showed teenagers do not necessarily have better memory, in general, but rather the way in which they remember is different,” Shohamy said.

The results of this research were published in the journal Neuron.



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