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Keywords:

  • adolescence;
  • prefrontal cortex (PFC);
  • stress;
  • cognitive function

Abstract: Exposure to even mild uncontrollable stress impairs the cognitive functioning of the prefrontal cortex, a brain region critical for insight, judgment, and the inhibition of inappropriate behaviors. Several neurobiological factors may contribute to an exaggeration of the stress response in adolescence, for example, an increased dopaminergic projection to prefrontal cortex, and in females, increased circulating estrogen, as estrogen amplifies many aspects of the stress response and lowers the threshold for stress-induced prefrontal cortical dysfunction. These neurobiological factors may increase susceptibility to impaired judgment, drug addiction, and neuropsychiatric disorders during adolescence.