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Jennings, J.R.

Jennings, J.R.

Richard Jennings, born in Boise, Idaho, USA, in 1944. Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Clinical Translational Medicine at University of Pittsburgh.

Fellow (1 September 2011 – 31 January 2012)


In our joint fellowship Maurits van der Molen and I examined the adolescent developmental period from our perspective as psychophysiologists. Maurits examined changing brain organization in adolescence while I specialized in how bodily changes in adolescence might bias them toward decisions with untoward long term risk, e.g., illicit drug use. A current biological perspective is that adolescents are characterized by a maturation of motivational/affective areas of the brain that outpaces the development of areas controlling such impulses. Existing results create a plausible basis for this, but hypotheses more closely linking brain development and psychological function are needed. An embodied view of risky decision making was developed that linked pubertal bodily changes, bodily reactions during affect, and bias toward risky decision making under conditions of uncertain future outcomes. Further testing of our hypothesis should both clarify adolescent development and point toward ways to improve adolescent decision making.

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