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Best time to learn new skills may develop during teenage years

Teenage years are the best time to learn and develop new skills.
Teenage years are the best time to learn and develop new skills. wikimedia commons

London, Dec 24, 2017: While a person can never be old enough to learn a new skill, teenage years can make learning easier. It is because the brain reacts more responsively to receiving rewards during adolescence, finds a study. Teenage years have been known to be inextricably linked to alcohol abuse, reckless behaviour and poor choice in friends.

This is due in part to increased activity in the corpus striatum — a small area deeply hidden away inside the brain. However, the new study showed that this increased activity in the corpus striatum does not have only negative consequences. “The adolescent brain is very sensitive to feedback,” said Sabine Peters, Assistant Professor at the Leiden University in the Netherlands.

“That makes adolescence the ideal time to acquire and retain new information,” Peters added. For the study, published in Nature Communications, the team involved 300 subjects between the ages of 8 and 29 and took MRI scans of their brains, for over a period of five years.

In the MRI scanner, participants had to solve a memory game, while the researchers gave feedback on the participants’ performance. The results showed that adolescents responded keenly to educational feedback. If the adolescent received useful feedback, then you saw the corpus striatum being activated. This was not the case with less pertinent feedback, for example, if the test person already knew the answer, the researchers said.

“The stronger your brain recognises that difference, the better the performance in the learning task. Brain activation could even predict learning performance two years into the future,” Peters said. (IANS)

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Exposure to Smoke Linked with Respiratory Problems in Teenagers

Also, health professionals should educate teens on the dangers associated with tobacco use to prevent initiation

Second hand smoke linked to dry cough among teenagers. Pixabay

As little as one hour of exposure to tobacco smoke per week can increase the risk of having respiratory symptoms, such as shortness of breath and a dry cough at night among teenagers, warns a study.

“There is no safe level of second hand smoke exposure,” said lead author of the study Ashley Merianos, Assistant Professor at the University of Cincinnati in the US.

“Even a small amount of exposure can lead to more emergency department visits and health problems for teens. That includes not just respiratory symptoms, but lower overall health,” Merianos said.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, involved 7,389 non-smoking US teenagers without asthma.

A man smoking cigarette. Pixabay

The findings showed that teenagers exposed to just one hour of second hand smoke per week are 1.5 times more likely to find it harder to exercise and two times more likely to experience wheezing during or after exercise.

They are two times more likely to have a dry cough at night and and 1.5 times more likely to miss school due to illness.

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“Healthcare providers or other health professionals can offer counselling to parents and other family members who smoke to help them quit smoking, and parents should be counselled on how to prevent and reduce their adolescent’s second hand smoke exposure,” Merianos said.

“Also, health professionals should educate teens on the dangers associated with tobacco use to prevent initiation,” she added. (IANS)

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