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Neural mechanisms of impulse control in sexually risky adolescents


The consequences of risky sexual behavior are of public concern. Adolescents contribute disproportionately to negative consequences of risky sexual behavior. However, no research has examined the neural correlates of impulse control and real-world engagement in risky sexual behavior in this population. The aim of the present study was to examine this question. Twenty sexually active adolescents performed an impulse control task during a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan and risky sexual behaviors were assessed through self-report. Sexual riskiness ratings were negatively associated with activation in the prefrontal cortex during response inhibition. These results suggest that diminished engagement of impulse control circuitry may contribute to sexual riskiness in adolescents.

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