Washington: A news that would provide parents of teenagers a sigh of relief. A study has revealed that children can resist peer pressure when they are at their most vulnerable, thanks to their brain that helps check risky behaviour. The findings may give parents some respite to parents worried about their kids as they enter adolescence and pay more attention to their friends.

However, the research provides scientists with basic insight about the brain's wiring, rather than direct clinical relevance for now, reports the journal Neuron.

'This is a complex point because people tend to think of adolescence as the time when teenagers are really susceptible to peer pressure,' said Jennifer H. Pfeifer, professor of psychology at University of Oregon who led the study.

He added, “That is the case, but in addition to that added susceptibility they are also improving their ability to resist it.”

The study was conducted on 24 girls and 14 boys from ethnically and socio-economically diverse backgrounds. They underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans twice, at ages 10 and 13, the latter representing the age when children have moved into early adolescence.

Each time, they were presented with photos of faces making neutral, angry, fearful, happy and sad emotional expressions.

Non-invasive fMRI, when focused on the brain, produces detailed images that provide scientists with information about brain activity or help medical staff diagnose disease.

Researchers compared the fMRI results from age 10 to age 13. The most enhanced response occurred in the ventral striatum, a brain region most frequently associated with reward-related processing.

Over time, increases in brain activity there correlated with increases in children's resistance to peer influence.

(Agencies)