What are the effects of Dopamine on the teenage brain?

dopamine teen brain

Dopamine affects the teenage brain as a neural transmitter that primes and fires reward circuits in the brain.

It is the “feel good” hormone that also provides the ability of rapid learning and the extreme emotions attached to winning and losing. Teens love the thrill, always looking for something new and exciting, unusual, or unexpected. Thrill seeking peaks around age 15, but dopamine continues to be a driving force until about 25, especially when other teens are around.

Although dopamine affects the teenage brain, dopamine levels have been shown to fall in the teen years, leaving some teens to feel “dopamine deprived.” Some psychologists have said that teens may engage in high-risk behaviors to increase their levels of dopamine. (The military takes advantage of this tendency by primarily enlisting soldiers from 18 to 25.)

Video games are actually designed to create small releases of dopamine with each point, goal, or kill, so it is no wonder that teens develop a real addiction to gaming because their brains are more sensitive to dopamine. Actually, teenage brains are more susceptible to all addictions (including drugs), so it’s a good idea to get them addicted to something healthy, like sports, academics, or music.

You can help your child get some healthy thrills by enlisting him on sports teams or in other competitions, or just planning exciting, adrenaline-producing activities that are relatively safe like roller coasters or water slides – plus, it’s a great way to become the “cool parents.”

You can get more advice on how your teen’s brain works and what you can do to help by clicking here to see your options starting at under a dollar.

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