It may now be possible to attribute the erratic moods of angry, antisocial teenagers to something other than fluctuating hormone levels.
Scientists at Yale University in the US say it may simply be that some teenagers because brains are not operating as they should.
The team of researchers found that if during adolescence the process which creates new brain cells is interrupted, it can lead dramatic consequences that can include acting like Vicky Pollard or Kevin and Perry.
Jokes aside, the interruption could even cause mental illnesses, schizophrenia included, when the person matures into adulthood.
The Yale scientists discovered that mice become profoundly antisocial when
the creation of new brain cells is interrupted in adolescence.
The surprising finding that may help researchers understand schizophrenia
and other mental disorders, and how personality is formed.
When the same process is interrupted in
adults, no such behavioral changes were noted, according to research
published in the October 4 issue of the journal Neuroscience.
The team focused on ‘neurogenesis’, a process in which cells are created in specific areas of the brain after birth.
It occurs at a much faster rate during childhood and adolescence but most other research has focused on adulthood.
Lead author Professor Arie Kaffman said: ‘This has important implications in understanding social development at the molecular level.
‘Normal adult mice tend to spend a lot of time exploring and interacting with unfamiliar mice.
‘However, adult mice that had neurogenesis blocked during adolescence showed no interest in exploring and even evaded attempts made by other mice to engage in social behaviour. These mice acted like they did not recognise other mice as mice.
‘Blocking adult neurogenesis had no effect on social behaviour, suggesting that brain cells generated during adolescence make a very different contribution to brain function and behaviour.
‘Intriguingly, schizophrenics have a deficit in generating neurons in the hippocampus, one of the brain areas where new neurons are created.
‘Given that symptoms emerge in adolescence, it is possible that deficits in generating new neurons during adolescence or even childhood holds new insights.’