Risk Taking and the Adolescent Brain
"In sum, risk taking declines between adolescence and adulthood for two, and perhaps, three reasons. First, the maturation of the cognitive control system, as evidenced by structural and functional changes in the prefrontal cortex, strengthens individuals’ abilities to engage in longer-term planning and inhibit impulsive behavior. Second, the maturation of connections across cortical areas and between cortical and subcortical regions facilitates the coordination of cognition and affect, which permits individuals to better modulate socially and emotionally aroused inclinations with deliberative reasoning and, conversely, to modulate excessively deliberative decision-making with social and emotional information. Finally, there may be developmental changes in patterns of neurotransmission after adolescence that change reward salience and reward-seeking, but this is a topic that requires further behavioral and neurobiological research before saying anything definitive."
Steinberg, Laurence, "A Social Neuroscience Perspective on Adolescent Risk-Taking," Developmental Review: Perspectives in Behavior and Cognition (May 27, 2008), Vol 28, Issue 1, p. 18.