Some Teen Brains Wired for Addiction; TV Makes Drinking Look Cool

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Discovered: Some brains are wired to want drugs, there's no such thing as safe texting while driving, TV makes drinking look fun to kids and rats chew better than other rodents.

  • Some teenage brains are wired to want drugs. Looking at the brains of teens, science discovered that it's not one's fault, really, if they happen to love drugs starting at a young-ish age. Differences in brain networks, especially in the orbitofrontal cortex determine how impulsive a person acts with alcohol, cigarettes and illegal drugs in their teens. And these brain differences occur before taking all those drugs, not after. "The take-home message is that impulsivity can be decomposed, broken down into different brain regions," explains researcher Hugh Garavan, "and the functioning of one region is related to ADHD symptoms, while the functioning of other regions is related to drug use," he continues. So, there's your excuse, kids. [University of Vermont]
  • There's no such thing as safe texting while driving say high school students. Even kids agree that texting while driving is never a safe endeavor. A study organized by a group of high school students used simulations to prove that texting in any position led to worse driving by teens. These simulations had these new drivers operate a car without a phone at all, with it in their lap, hidden and with it anywhere they wanted. When the phone existed, kids drifted more and had more near crashes than when it wasn't present at all. "These data demonstrate that there is no 'safe' or 'better' position that makes texting less dangerous," said Glade Inhofe, a high school student and lead author of the paper. [Pediatric Academic Societies]
  • TV makes drinking look fun to teens. Booze advertising makes kids underage drink. "In this study, we have shown a link between recognition of nationally televised alcohol advertisements and underage drinking initiation and heavier use patterns," explains researcher Susanne E. Tanski. We would get that if all ads were like that super fun Heineken "perfect date" ad, which makes drinking seem like a Bond party. But then there are all those commercials with dufus guys at bars trying to impress ultra-hot ladies, which doesn't look very fun at all. (Who likes being hit on by creepy men? And, who likes to be compared to creepy men?) Teens, explain? [PAS]
  • Rats chew better than other rodents. First, science tells us rats and mice are particularly successful animals, with over 1,000 species, comprising almost a quarter of all known mammals. Gross. And the reason for all that success: Good teeth. "We wanted to understand the evolutionary success of mice and rats and hypothesised that their generalised feeding behaviour played a significant role. Through using reverse engineering techniques we were able to recreate the bite of the rat, as well as test whether its success was attributed to the arrangement of their skull or jaw muscles," explains researcher Dr Philip Cox. "The results, however, showed that the way rat muscles have adapted over time, has increased their ability to chew more effectively than a guinea pig and gnaw better than a squirrel, even though these two species are specialists in these kinds of jaw movements," he continues. [University of Liverpool]

Image via Shutterstock by Diego Cervo.

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