A neural systems model of decision making in adolescents

Monique Ernst

in Decision Making, Affect, and Learning

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199600434
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725623 | DOI:

Series: Attention and Performance

A neural systems model of decision making in adolescents

Show Summary Details


This chapter focuses on a heuristic neural systems model of motivated behaviour. This model provides hypotheses for mechanisms underlying changes in behaviour across development and psychopathology. The fractal triadic model (FTM) posits that goal-directed behaviour results from the interaction among three nodes of behavioural control. These three functional nodes are centred on the amygdala, striatum, and medial prefrontal cortex, which contribute to avoidance, approach, and modulation, respectively. They feed two distinct neural circuits: one that is modulated primarily by appetitive stimuli and serves approach behaviour, and one that is modulated primarily by aversive stimuli and serves avoidance behaviour. The behavioural output results from the integration of the information that is processed by these two neural circuits and is submitted to the control of the supervisory node. Such organization of three functional nodes subserving two neural circuits relies on the well-described structural and functional heterogeneity of these nodes. In addition, asynchrony in the maturational trajectories not only among the nodes, but also among the subunits of these nodes, is the central principle that underlies the typical behavioural changes seen in adolescence. Functional neuroimaging research is beginning to examine ontogenic changes in neural responses to reward-related processes that can further inform this heuristic model. The chapter addresses the major points mentioned above and ends with selected questions proposed as priority for future research.

Keywords: heuristic neural systems model; motivated behaviour; fractal triadic model; adolescence; neural circuits; teenagers

Chapter.  8494 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.