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    Puberty and risky decision-making in male adolescents

    Goddings, A.-L. and Dumontheil, Iroise and Viner, R.M. and Blakemore, S.-J. (2023) Puberty and risky decision-making in male adolescents. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience 60 , p. 101230. ISSN 1878-9293.

    Goddings Dumontheil Viner & Blakemore DCN 2023 Puberty and risky decision making in male adolescents.pdf - Published Version of Record
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    Pubertal development is a potential trigger for increases in risk-taking behaviours during adolescence. Here, we sought to investigate the relationship between puberty and neural activation during risky decision-making in males using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Forty-seven males aged 12.5–14.5 years completed an fMRI risk-taking task (BART) and reported their tendencies for risky decision-making using a self-report questionnaire. Puberty was assessed through self-reported pubertal status and salivary testosterone levels. Testosterone concentration, but not physical pubertal status, was positively correlated with self-reported risk-taking behaviour, while neither was correlated with BART performance. Across the whole sample, participants had greater activation of the bilateral nucleus accumbens and right caudate on trials when they made a successful risky decision compared to trials when they made a safe choice or when their risky decision was unsuccessful. There was a negative correlation between pubertal stage and brain activation during unsuccessful risky decision-making trials compared within unsuccessful control trials. Males at a lower stage of pubertal development showed increased activation in the left insula, right cingulate cortex, dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC), right putamen and right orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) relative to more pubertally mature males during trials when they chose to take a risk and the balloon popped compared to when they watched the computer make an unsuccessful risky decision. Less pubertally mature males also showed greater activation in brain regions including the dmPFC, right temporal and frontal cortices, right OFC, right hippocampus and occipital cortex in unsuccessful risky trials compared to successful risky trials. These results suggest a puberty-related shift in neural activation within key brain regions when processing outcomes of risky decisions, which may reduce their sensitivity to negative feedback, and in turn contribute to increases in adolescent risk-taking behaviours.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Psychological Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Brain and Cognitive Development, Centre for (CBCD)
    Depositing User: Iroise Dumontheil
    Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2023 05:24
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:20


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