The BBC is reporting that in a small study, teenagers performed better than adults at a picture-based game and brain scans showed a higher level of brain activity.
The research team, from Harvard, Columbia and California universities, set out to test whether adolescents’ typical reward-seeking behaviour could also make them better at learning from good or bad outcomes.
They asked 41 teenagers, aged 13 to 17, and 31 adults, aged 20 to 30, to play a game based on pictures while scanning some of each group’s brains using MRI.
When they looked at the teenagers’ brain scans, the researchers found activity in two areas of the brain – the hippocampus and the striatum – whereas adults mainly used their striatum. They said these connections between two important parts of the growing brain explained why they performed better.
Juliet Davidow, a psychology researcher at Harvard University, said the findings could inspire new ways of teaching teenagers.
“If you frame something positively, it could be the case that adolescents will remember things about the learning experience better.
“In everyday life, they’re paying attention to their environment in a way that is different from adults.”
The researchers are now looking at what other situations or experiences activate this link between the striatum and hippocampus in teenage brains.
Do you think that more research into teenagers brains could help discover how they learn best? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter. ~ Sophie
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