Why do some teenagers start smoking or experimenting with drugs-while others don’t?
In the largest imaging study of the human brain ever conducted-involving 1,896 14-year-olds-scientists have discovered a number of previously unknown networks that go a long way toward an answer.
Robert Whelan and Hugh Garavan of the University of Vermont, along with a large group of international colleagues, report that differences in these networks provide strong evidence that some teenagers are at higher risk for drug and alcohol experimentation-simply because their brains work differently, making them more impulsive.
Their findings are presented in the journal Nature Neuroscience, published online April 29, 2012.
This discovery helps answer a long-standing chicken-or-egg question about whether certain brain patterns come before drug use-or are caused by it.