Problem Gambling & the Adolescent Brain Oregon Problem Gambling Services; Material from Dr. Ken Winters & Dr. Jon Grant
Adolescence is a period of profound brain maturation. • We thought brain development was complete by adolescence • We now know… maturation is not complete until about age 24!!!
Construction Ahead • Growth of the brain’s nerve cells (neurons) occurs through late childhood • 1,000,000,000,000,000 possible connections. • Around 11 – GIRLS; 12½ - BOYS: • Some of these connections are pruned off and remaining ones are strengthened.
Construction Ahead • When the pruning is complete, the brain is faster and more efficient. • But… during the pruning process, the brain is not functioning at full capacity
Neurological maturation starts at the back of the brain, and moves to the front Amygdala Judgment Emotion Motivation Physical coordination Prefrontal Cortex Nucleus Accumbens Cerebellum Notice: Judgment is last to develop!
Judgment Gets Betterwith Age • By age 18, the adolescent’s judgement for structured challenges is roughly equal to that of adults. • But judgement that involves resisting impulses or delaying gratification is still under construction during late adolescence and early adulthood.
The dopamine system is more robust during adolescence than in adulthood • novel stimuli trigger firing of dopamine; the experience is rewarded by a dopamine burst • Compared to adults, the robust dopamine system of adolescence will contribute to a more heightened reward experience in the face of novel stimuli
Implications of “Arrested Development” for Adolescent Behavior • We can infer...…. • Preference for physical activity • Preference for high excitement and low effort activities • Preference for novelty • Poor planning and judgment • Minimal consideration of negative consequences • More risky, impulsive behaviors • Some evidence that being in a group accentuates risk taking
1. Background 2. Neuro- development 3. Neurodevelopment and gambling • youth in general • ADHD youth
Does normal brain development contribute to adolescent susceptibility to gambling? INDIRECT SUPPORT: • > risk taking (particularly in groups) (gambling?) • > propensity toward low effort - high excitement activities (gambling?) • < capacity for good judgment & weighing consequences (gambling?) • > sensitivity to novel stimuli (gambling?)