Effects of Novelty on Behavior in Adolescent and Adult Rats

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development, impulsivity, novelty preference, exploration, rats, adolescence

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Adolescence is a time of high‐risk behavior and increased exploration. This developmental period is marked by a greater probability of initiating drug use and is associated with an increased risk to develop addiction and dependency in adulthood. Human adolescents are predisposed towards an increased likelihood of risk taking behaviors (Zuckerman, 1986), including drug use or initiation. The purpose of the study was to examine differences in developmental risk taking behaviors. Adolescent and adult animals were exposed to a novel stimulus in a familiar environment to assess impulsive behaviors, novelty preference, and exploratory behaviors. Adolescent animals had greater novelty‐induced locomotor activity, greater novelty preference, and showed higher approach and exploratory behaviors compared to adult animals. These data support the notion that adolescents may be predisposed toward sensation seeking and consequently, are more likely to engage in risk‐taking behaviors, such as drug use initiation.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Developmental Psychobiology, v. 48, issue 1, p. 10-15