Research

Fundamentals of the Adolescent Brain (FAB) Lab

The teen brain has received a lot of media coverage with advances in brain imaging techniques that provide a voyeuristic opportunity for us to look under the hood of the behaving adolescent brain. These methods together with sophisticated animal studies are providing new insights as to why young people experience and respond to the world in unique ways. The work in the Fundamentals of the Adolescent Brain (FAB) lab uses human imaging and animal models on topics that range from self-control to mental illness to social and legal policy. Rather than depicting the teen brain as defective, our research paints a picture of a brain that is sculpted by both biological and experiential factors to adapt to the unique social, physical, sexual and intellectual challenges of adolescence. Specifically we are interested in which situations lead to break downs in self control and which lead to adaptive behavior. When does the capacity for self control fully mature? How do changes in neural circuitry help to explain changes in self control across development? Whether these changes are observed in other species and if so, how might they be evolutionarily adaptive and when do they become maladaptive?