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Curr Dir Psychol Sci. 2013 Apr 1;22(2):82-87.

The Teenage Brain: Self Control.

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Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology Department of Psychiatry Weill Cornell Medical College 1300 York Ave, Box140 New York, New York 10065.


Adolescence refers to the transition from childhood to adulthood that begins with the onset of puberty and ends with successful independence from the parent. A paradox for human adolescence is why, during a time when the individual is probably faster, stronger, of higher reasoning capacity and more resistant to disease, there is such an increase in mortality relative to childhood. These untimely deaths are not due to disease, but rather to preventable forms of death (accidental fatalities, suicide and homicide) associated with adolescents putting themselves in harm's way due, in part, to diminished self control - the ability to suppress inappropriate emotions, desires and actions. This paper highlights how self control varies as a function of age, context and the individual and delineates its neurobiological basis.


Adolescence; development; prefrontal cortex; reward; salience; self control; ventral striatum

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