Scientists have discovered a new way to determine potential drug addicts at a young age. According to a recent study, by predicting the response of the brain to rewards at 14 years old, they can predict possible teen substance abuse.
A research conducted by students from Stanford University revealed that lower activity in the motivational regions of the brain while responding to a reward could help determine teenagers who are vulnerable to drug abuse.
The Stanford University research involved 144 novelty-seeking adolescents aged 14 to 16. According to the study, these kinds of behavior, which arise from impulsive and rash decisions, can be dangerous as it can lead to risky behavior. At the same time, it can also have benefits as it encourages adolescents to discover and explore new opportunities.
However, it is still unclear whether this behavior can help predict positive or negative behavior towards illegal drugs. According to the study, 14-year old teenagers who demonstrated reduced motivational activity in response to a financial reward are likely to become drug dependents by age 16.
By using brain scans, it will be much easier to target those who are prone to teen substance abuse and help them before they become addicted to illegal drugs. In a recent interview, Professor Brian Knutson revealed that although some kids may be vulnerable to substance abuse, there are exceptions. “If we had ways of predicting who was vulnerable, the hope is that we could better target resources and treatments,” Knutson said.
“It is possible that the brain scans could become a part of conventional medicine… But only if they do as good as or a better job of predicting and recommending treatment as other measures, and are cost effective.” Knutson added.