Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Teenagers: innocent, or evil?   posted by Razib @ 10/03/2007 04:36:00 PM

Be Good Now, Or Else:
Neuroscientists have taken a step closer to a physiological explanation of why some people work and play well with others. Two areas in the brain appear to have key roles in how people conform with social norms. These parts of the brain mature slowly, which may help explain why adolescents are less easily cowed by the threat of punishment than are adults.

Chris likes to joke that cognitive neuroscience basically tells us that "stuff happens in the brain." There's some truth in that, but I still think that methods like fMRI are going to be an important piece of the bigger jigsaw puzzle that is human nature. For example, variation in fMRI combined with behavior genetic expectation that said variation should have a biological (genetic) underpinning seems a lot more compelling than either datum alone.

Also, ever notice how some people who were assholes when they were kids turn out normal? The conventional assumption is that people grow up and learn, but perhaps they couldn't learn for neurological reasons until they grew up!