Human teenagers aren’t exactly known for their restraint. An incompletely developed region of the brain called the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), which acts a bit like a parking brake, can make adolescents more likely to engage in risky behaviors including reckless driving, substance abuse, and risky sexual behavior. It turns out, the same can be said for adolescent chimpanzees, except reckless behaviors for them may look more like increased aggression.
A study published January 23 by the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General from the American Psychological Association finds that while chimps and teens share these risk-taking behaviors, the chimpanzees may be less impulsive.
“Adolescent chimpanzees are in some sense facing the same psychological tempest that human teens are,” said co-author Alexandra Rosati, an associate professor of psychology and anthropology at the University of Michigan, in a statement. “Our findings show that several key features of human adolescent psychology are also seen in our closest primate relatives.”