Reckless Teens Have More Mature Brains

Study links risky behavior to a better crop of white matter
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 2, 2009 12:22 PM CDT
An artist's rendition of the human brain.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Conventional wisdom says that teens who experiment with drugs, sex, and other risky behaviors do so because their brains—specifically the frontal-lobe areas responsible for decision making—are immature. But a new study turns that notion upside down, suggesting that risky teens have more mature brains than teens who play it safe, reports Time.

A study in PLoS ONE found that white matter—the brain’s wiring—is more developed in the adventurous camp. While the relative effect of gray and white matter development on behavior is far from clear, researchers speculate that teens with more mature white-matter wiring may feel more “adult,” and so more inclined to test limits imposed by authority figures.