Adolescence is a period of increased risk for the onset of a wide range of emotional and behavioral problems. In the last few years, scientists have provided us with new knowledge about brain development that helps us understand this increased vulnerability during adolescence. For instance, there is growing evidence that brain maturation continues well through adolescence. In addition, the maturation of arousal and motivational systems seems to precede the development of an adolescent’s regulatory competence. These changes might explain why adolescents are more prone to emotionally influenced behavior, which can lead to disregard for potential risks and consequences. Because trajectories that are set during adolescence can have a major impact later in life, and because altering negative trajectories prior to adulthood seems to be more effective than interventions later in life [2], a focus on adolescent development is indicated.

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F.C. Verhulst (Frank) , A.C. Huizink (Anja)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

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