Brooks King-Casas recruiting for new study on risk-taking in adolescents

Brooks King-Casas, Ph.D.

Brooks King-Casas, Ph.D.

What makes the adolescent brain so susceptible to taking risks? Virginia Tech scientists are recruiting as many as 150 teenagers to help them find out.

“We’re trying to identify early predictors of substance abuse and risky sexual behavior among adolescents,” said Brooks King-Casas, an assistant professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute and one of the new study’s leaders. “The years between 13 and 17 are critical in a young person’s brain development. During that span, adolescents tend to become more sensitive to high-reward stimuli – sex, drugs, rock ’n’ roll. At the same time, the brain’s prefrontal regions, which help inhibit impulsive behaviors, are still developing. Problems in either or both of the two trends can translate into risky behaviors.”

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