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  • Have you ever tried to understand a teenager?

  • It's exhausting, right?

  • You must be puzzled by the fact that some teens do well in school,

  • lead clubs and teams

  • and volunteer in their communities,

  • but they eat Tide Pods for an online challenge,

  • speed and text while driving,

  • binge drink and experiment with illicit drugs.

  • How can so many teens be so smart, skilled and responsible --

  • and careless risk-takers at the same time?

  • When I was 16,

  • while frequently observing my peers in person

  • as well as on social media,

  • I began to wonder why so many teens took such crazy risks.

  • It seems like getting a certificate from DARE class in the fifth grade

  • can't stop them.

  • (Laughter)

  • What was even more alarming to me

  • was that the more they exposed themselves to these harmful risks,

  • the easier it became for them to continue taking risks.

  • Now this confused me,

  • but it also made me incredibly curious.

  • So, as someone with a name

  • that literally means "to explore knowledge,"

  • I started searching for a scientific explanation.

  • Now, it's no secret that teens ages 13 to 18

  • are more prone to risk-taking than children or adults,

  • but what makes them so daring?

  • Do they suddenly become reckless,

  • or is this just a natural phase that they're going through?

  • Well neuroscientists have already found evidence

  • that the teen brain is still in the process of maturation --

  • and that this makes them exceptionally poor at decision-making,

  • causing them to fall prey to risky behaviors.

  • But in that case, if the maturing brain is to blame,

  • then why are teens more vulnerable than children,

  • even though their brains are more developed than those of children?

  • Also, not all teens in the world take risks at the same level.

  • Are there some other underlying or unintentional causes

  • driving them to risk-taking?

  • Well, this is exactly what I decided to research.

  • So, I founded my research on the basis of a psychological process

  • known as "habituation,"

  • or simply what we refer to as "getting used to it."

  • Habituation explains how our brains adapt to some behaviors,

  • like lying, with repeated exposures.

  • And this concept inspired me to design a project

  • to determine if the same principle

  • could be applied to the relentless rise of risk-taking in teenagers.

  • So I predicted that habituation to risk-taking

  • may have the potential to change the already-vulnerable teenage brain

  • by blunting or even eradicating

  • the negative emotions associated with risk,

  • like fear or guilt.

  • I also thought because they would feel less fearful and guilty,

  • this desensitization would lead them to even more risk-taking.

  • In short, I wanted to conduct a research study

  • to answer one big question:

  • Why do teens keep making outrageous choices

  • that are harmful to their health and well-being?

  • But there was one big obstacle in my way.

  • To investigate this problem,

  • I needed teenagers to experiment on,

  • laboratories and devices to measure their brain activity,

  • and teachers or professors to supervise me and guide me along the way.

  • I needed resources.

  • But, you see, I attended a high school in South Dakota

  • with limited opportunity for scientific exploration.

  • My school had athletics,

  • band, choir, debate and other clubs,

  • but there were no STEM programs or research mentors.

  • And the notion of high schoolers

  • doing research or participating in a science fair was completely foreign.

  • Simply put, I didn't exactly have the ingredients

  • to make a chef-worthy dish.

  • And these obstacles were frustrating,

  • but I was also a stubborn teenager.

  • And as the daughter of Bangladeshi immigrants

  • and one of just a handful of Muslim students

  • in my high school in South Dakota,

  • I often struggled to fit in.

  • And I wanted to be someone with something to contribute to society,

  • not just be deemed the scarf-wearing brown girl

  • who was an anomaly in my homogenous hometown.

  • I hoped that by doing this research,

  • I could establish this

  • and how valuable scientific exploration could be for kids like me

  • who didn't necessarily find their niche elsewhere.

  • So with limited research opportunities,

  • inventiveness allowed me to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles.

  • I became more creative in working with a variety of methodologies,

  • materials and subjects.

  • I transformed my unassuming school library

  • into a laboratory

  • and my peers into lab rats.

  • (Laughter)

  • My enthusiastic geography teacher,

  • who also happens to be my school's football coach,

  • ended up as my cheerleader,

  • becoming my mentor to sign necessary paperwork.

  • And when it became logistically impossible

  • to use a laboratory electroencephalography,

  • or EEG,

  • which are those electrode devices used to measure emotional responses,

  • I bought a portable EEG headset with my own money,

  • instead of buying the new iPhone X

  • that a lot of kids my age were saving up for.

  • So finally I started the research

  • with 86 students, ages 13 to 18, from my high school.

  • Using the computer cubicles in my school library,

  • I had them complete a computerized decision-making simulation

  • to measure their risk-taking behaviors comparable to ones in the real world,

  • like alcohol use, drug use and gambling.

  • Wearing the EEG headset,

  • the students completed the test 12 times over three days

  • to mimic repeated risk exposures.

  • A control panel on the EEG headset

  • measured their various emotional responses:

  • like attention, interest, excitement, frustration,

  • guilt, stress levels and relaxation.

  • They also rated their emotions

  • on well-validated emotion-measuring scales.

  • This meant that I had measured the process of habituation

  • and its effects on decision-making.

  • And it took 29 days to complete this research.

  • And with months of frantically drafting proposals,

  • meticulously computing data in a caffeinated daze at 2am,

  • I was able to finalize my results.

  • And the results showed that habituation to risk-taking

  • could actually change a teen's brain by altering their emotional levels,

  • causing greater risk-taking.

  • The students' emotions that were normally associated with risks,

  • like fear, stress, guilt and nervousness,

  • as well as attention,

  • were high when they were first exposed to the risk simulator.

  • This curbed their temptations and enforced self-control,

  • which prevented them from taking more risks.

  • However, the more they were exposed to the risks through the simulator,

  • the less fearful, guilty and stressed they became.

  • This caused a situation

  • in which they were no longer able to feel

  • the brain's natural fear and caution instincts.

  • And also, because they are teenagers and their brains are still underdeveloped,

  • they became more interested and excited in thrill-seeking behaviors.

  • So what were the consequences?

  • They lacked self-control for logical decision-making,

  • took greater risks

  • and made more harmful choices.

  • So the developing brain alone isn't to blame.

  • The process of habituation also plays a key role in risk-taking

  • and risk escalation.

  • Although a teen's willingness to seek risk

  • is largely a result of the structural and functional changes

  • associated with their developing brains,

  • the dangerous part that my research was able to highlight

  • was that a habituation to risks

  • can actually physically change a teen's brain

  • and cause greater risk-taking.

  • So it's the combination of the immature teen brain

  • and the impact of habituation

  • that is like a perfect storm to create more damaging effects.

  • And this research can help parents and the general public

  • understand that teens aren't just willfully ignoring warnings

  • or simply defying parents by engaging in increasingly more dangerous behavior.

  • The biggest hurdle they're facing is their habituation to risks:

  • all the physical, detectable and emotional functional changes

  • that drive and control and influence their over-the-top risk-taking.

  • So yes, we need policies that provide safer environments

  • and limit exposures to high risks,

  • but we also need policies that reflect this insight.

  • These results are a wake-up call for teens, too.

  • It shows them that the natural and necessary fear and guilt

  • that protect them from unsafe situations

  • actually become numb when they repeatedly choose risky behaviors.

  • So with this hope to share my findings with fellow teenagers and scientists,

  • I took my research

  • to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, or ISEF,

  • a culmination of over 1,800 students

  • from 75 countries, regions and territories,

  • who showcase their cutting-edge research and inventions.

  • It's like the Olympics of science fair.

  • (Laughter)

  • There, I was able to present my research to experts in neuroscience and psychology

  • and garner valuable feedback.

  • But perhaps the most memorable moment of the week

  • was when the booming speakers suddenly uttered my name

  • during the awards ceremony.

  • I was in such disbelief that I questioned myself:

  • Was this just another \"La La Land\" blunder

  • like at the Oscars?

  • (Laughter)

  • Luckily, it wasn't.

  • I really had won first place

  • in the category \"Behavioral and Social Sciences.\"

  • (Applause)

  • Needless to say,

  • I was not only thrilled to have this recognition,

  • but also the whole experience of science fair that validated my efforts

  • keeps my curiosity alive

  • and strengthens my creativity,

  • perseverance and imagination.

  • This still image of me experimenting in my school library

  • may seem ordinary,

  • but to me, it represents a sort of inspiration.

  • It reminds me that this process taught me to take risks.

  • And I know that might sound incredibly ironic.

  • But I took risks realizing

  • that unforeseen opportunities often come from risk-taking --

  • not the hazardous, negative type that I studied,

  • but the good ones,

  • the positive risks.

  • The more risks I took,

  • the more capable I felt of withstanding my unconventional circumstances,

  • leading to more tolerance, resilience and patience

  • for completing my project.

  • And these lessons have led me to new ideas

  • like: Is the opposite of negative risk-taking also true?

  • Can positive risk-taking escalate with repeated exposures?

  • Does positive action build positive brain functioning?

  • I think I just might have my next research idea.

  • (Applause)

Have you ever tried to understand a teenager?

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B1 中級

TED】カシュフィア・ラーマン:リスクテイクはティーンエイジャーの脳をどのように変えるのか (リスクテイクはティーンエイジャーの脳をどのように変えるのか|カシュフィア・ラーマン) (【TED】Kashfia Rahman: How risk-taking changes a teenager's brain (How risk-taking changes a teenager's brain | Kashfia Rahman))

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    林宜悉 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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