In the study, 14-year-old subjects completed a simulated driving task while researchers tracked blood flow in their brains."In one trial, the teenage driver was alone. In another, the teen's mother was present and watching," said University of Illinois psychology professor Eva Telzer who led the research.

Telzer and her colleagues observed that teenagers driving alone found risky decisions rewarding.Blood flow to the ventral striatum, a "reward centre" in the brain, increased significantly when teen drivers chose to ignore a yellow stoplight and drove through the intersection anyway.Previous research has demonstrated that the ventral striatum is more sensitive to rewards in adolescence than during any other developmental period, Telzer said."Peers significantly increase risk-taking among teenagers.

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