Background: Risk-taking, which involves voluntary choices for behaviors where outcomes remain uncertain, undergoes considerable developmental changes during childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. In addition, risk-taking is thought to be a key element of many externalizing disorders, such as ADHD, delinquency, conduct disorder, and substance abuse. In this review, we will discuss the potential adaptive and nonadaptive properties of risk-taking in childhood and adolescence. Findings: We propose that the changes in brain architecture and function are a crucial element underlying these developmental trajectories. We first identify how subcortical and cortical interactions are important for understanding risk-taking behavior in adults. Next, we show how developmental changes in this network underlie changes in risk-taking behavior. Finally, we explore how these differences can be important for understanding externalizing behavioral disorders in childhood and adolescence. Conclusions: We conclude that longitudinal studies are of crucial importance for understanding these developmental trajectories, and many of these studies are currently underway.

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Keywords Risk-taking behavior, adolescence, developmental changes, individual differences, externalizing disorders, brain connectivity, ventral striatum.
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Journal Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Crone, E.A.M., & van Duivenvoorde, A.C.K. (2016). Neural contributions to risk taking in adolescence: Developmental changes and individual differences. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 57(3), 353–368. doi:10.1111/jcpp.12502