Adolescence is a time of transformation that is characterized by discrete changes in behavior, cognition and the brain – some of which are likely pubertal dependent, and others which are not. Although set within cultural contexts, these transformations appear to have biological roots that are deeply embedded in our evolutionary past. Starting from an evolutionary perspective, this paper provides an overview of the neurobiological and hormonal changes of adolescence and the implications of this biology for adolescent risk-taking and other behaviors. So, what impact does consideration of the biology of adolescence have for understanding adolescent risk-taking? Basic neurobehavioral characteristics of adolescents have biological roots that are deeply imbedded in our evolutionary past. Adolescents view rewarding and aversive stimuli differently than do adults. The adolescent brain does not seem to merely reflect a series of regions attaining maturity at different times, but in some sense can be characterized as a brain that reacts differently to stimuli than does the mature brain.
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