Adolescence and Reward: Making Sense of Neural and Behavioral Changes Amid the Chaos.

TitleAdolescence and Reward: Making Sense of Neural and Behavioral Changes Amid the Chaos.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsWalker DM, Bell MR, Flores C, Gulley JM, Willing J, Paul MJ
JournalJ Neurosci
Date Published2017 Nov 08
KeywordsAdolescent, Adolescent Behavior, Adolescent Development, Female, Hormones, Humans, Male, Psychology, Adolescent, Puberty, Reward, Substance-Related Disorders

Adolescence is a time of significant neural and behavioral change with remarkable development in social, emotional, and cognitive skills. It is also a time of increased exploration and risk-taking (e.g., drug use). Many of these changes are thought to be the result of increased reward-value coupled with an underdeveloped inhibitory control, and thus a hypersensitivity to reward. Perturbations during adolescence can alter the developmental trajectory of the brain, resulting in long-term alterations in reward-associated behaviors. This review highlights recent developments in our understanding of how neural circuits, pubertal hormones, and environmental factors contribute to adolescent-typical reward-associated behaviors with a particular focus on sex differences, the medial prefrontal cortex, social reward, social isolation, and drug use. We then introduce a new approach that makes use of natural adaptations of seasonally breeding species to investigate the role of pubertal hormones in adolescent development. This research has only begun to parse out contributions of the many neural, endocrine, and environmental changes to the heightened reward sensitivity and increased vulnerability to mental health disorders that characterize this life stage.

Alternate JournalJ. Neurosci.
PubMed ID29118215
PubMed Central IDPMC5678018
Grant ListR01 DA007359 / DA / NIDA NIH HHS / United States
R01 DA029815 / DA / NIDA NIH HHS / United States
R01 DA037911 / DA / NIDA NIH HHS / United States
P01 DA008227 / DA / NIDA NIH HHS / United States
R21 MH099625 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States
R01 MH068764 / MH / NIMH NIH HHS / United States

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