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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Family History Impacts Teenagers

A child’s greatest influence is their parents, what children see, hear, or experience due to their parents behavior will greatly impact them. A family history of alcoholism can seriously affect a teenager’s decision making according to a new study. Researchers at Oregon Health and Sciences University determined that such teenagers have a weaker brain response during risky decision-making when compared with teens without such a family history.

31 teens, ages 13 to 15, were observed during the course of the study, with 18 having had a family history of alcoholism. All of the teens’ brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging, to see responses during an activity that was similar to the show Wheel of Fortune. The game presented risky and safe probabilities of winning different sums of money.

Teens with a family history of alcoholism had two areas of the brain that responded differently, UPI reports. Brain areas are important for executive functioning, which guide complex behavior through planning, decision-making, and response control. The teen group with a family history of alcoholism showed weaker brain responses during risky decision-making, compared with teens who did not have a family history of alcoholism.

“A typical brain activity, in regions implicated in executive functioning could lead to reduced cognitive control, which may result in risky choices regarding alcohol use.”

The research can be seen in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

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