Poster E128, Monday, March 27, 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Pacific Concourse
Do adolescents take more risks? It might depend on the development of statistical learning
Noémi Éltető1, Karolina Janacsek1,2, Andrea Kóbor3, Ádám Takács1, Dezső Nemeth1,2; 1Eötvos Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary, 2Brain, Memory and Language Lab, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary, 3Brain Imaging Centre, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Hungary
Previous research has suggested that the altered interplay of outcome evaluation and impulse control is responsible for the increased risk-taking often observed in adolescence. Importantly, learning and adaptation could also play a role in sequential risk-taking. While explicit learning abilities steadily improve with development, implicit learning is decreased at the onset of puberty. Here we aimed to investigate how the co-occurring ontogenetic changes in implicit statistical learning and risk-taking behavior might be related. We tested a total of 180 participants aged from 8 to 24. We measured statistical learning ability by a probabilistic learning task, namely the Alternating Serial Reaction Time (ASRT) Task, and risk-taking by the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART). On average, participants showed a risk-averse pattern, leading to a sub-optimal performance on the BART. Our results show no age differences in risk-taking. However, the relationship between statistical learning and risk-taking was significantly different across age groups. Those pre-adolescents who had better statistical learning ability took more risks. This relationship was reversed at the onset of puberty: young adolescents with inferior statistical learning ability were the more risk-taking, thus achieving higher scores. This result might be explained by a strategic switch caused by cognitive development. In sum, we suggest that the developmental decrease of statistical learning ability contributes to how individuals can adapt to risky situations.
Topic Area: THINKING: Decision making