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Greater response variability in adolescents is associated with increased white matter development.

  • Author(s): Goldenberg, Diane
  • Telzer, Eva H
  • Lieberman, Matthew D
  • Fuligni, Andrew J
  • Galván, Adriana
  • et al.
Abstract

Adolescence is a period of learning, exploration, and continuous adaptation to fluctuating environments. Response variability during adolescence is an important, understudied, and developmentally appropriate behavior. The purpose of this study was to identify the association between performance on a dynamic risky decision making task and white matter microstructure in a sample of 48 adolescents (14-16 years). Individuals with the greatest response variability on the task obtained the widest range of experience with potential outcomes to risky choice. When compared with their more behaviorally consistent peers, adolescents with greater response variability rated real-world examples of risk taking behaviors as less risky via self-report. Tract-Based Spatial Statistics (TBSS) were used to examine fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD). Greater FA in long-range, late-maturing tracts was associated with higher response variability. Greater FA and lower MD were associated with lower riskiness ratings of real-world risky behaviors. Results suggest that response variability and lower perceived risk attitudes of real-world risk are supported by neural maturation in adolescents.

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