Brain Immaturity

by on February 9, 2005 at 7:01 am in Medicine | Permalink

By most physical measures, teenagers should be the world’s best
drivers. Their muscles are supple, their reflexes quick, their senses
at a lifetime peak. Yet car crashes kill more of them than any other
cause — a problem, some researchers believe, that is rooted in the
adolescent brain.

A National Institutes of Health study suggests that the region of
the brain that inhibits risky behavior is not fully formed until age
25, a finding with implications for a host of policies, including the
nation’s driving laws.

The results are interesting if a tad obvious.  I am bothered, however, by how much of this type of research is suffused with a normative bias.  Why is taking risks always connected with brain immaturity?  Why not say brain atrophy makes people stodgy and boring?  Could it be that the researchers are not teenagers?

This results also leads me to wonder about all those experimental economics studies done on university students.

Thanks to Carl Close for the pointer.

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