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The Distracted Teenage Brain Commonlit Answers

  • 8th Grade
  • Lexile: 870

Source: The Distracted Teenage Brain by Alison Pearce Stevens

Assessment Answers

PART A: Which of the following statements best expresses the central idea of the article?Teenagers are more prone to distraction because they are more attracted to or focused on potential rewards.
PART B: Which of the following quotes best supports the answer to Part A?“‘The study demonstrates that the attention of adolescents is especially drawn to rewarding information” (Paragraph 12)
PART A: What does the word “entice” mean as used in paragraph 1?to attract
PART B: Which of the following phrases from paragraph 1 best supports the answer to Part A?“allure of rewards”

Analyze the claim the author makes about distracted teenage behaviors and evaluate whether the evidence used to support this claim is sufficient.

The author claims that teenagers are more prone to distraction because they are more attracted to or focused on potential rewards, even when the reward is no longer present.

Here’s an analysis of the claim and the evidence:


  • Teenagers are more susceptible to distraction than adults.
  • This increased susceptibility stems from their stronger attraction to potential rewards.
  • This attraction persists even when the reward is no longer available.


  • The study conducted by Zachary Roper and his team shows that teenagers took longer to respond when previously rewarded cues (colored circles) appeared, even though they received no reward in this phase.
  • Adults, on the other hand, quickly stopped paying attention to the previously rewarded cues once the rewards were removed.

Evaluation of the evidence:

  • The study provides direct evidence for the claim by demonstrating how teenagers prioritize previously rewarded stimuli compared to adults.
  • However, the study only involved a small sample group and focused on a specific type of reward (money). This limits the generalizability of the findings to apply to all types of distractions and populations of teenagers.
  • The article mentions other studies suggesting a link between the reward system and risky behaviors in teenagers, but it doesn’t delve into the specifics of those studies or provide direct evidence.


  • The evidence supports the claim to a certain extent by showing a specific instance where teenagers are more drawn to previously rewarded stimuli compared to adults.
  • However, more research with larger and more diverse samples is needed to conclusively confirm the claim and generalize it to all types of distractions and teenage behavior.

Additional points to consider:

  • The article doesn’t explore the underlying mechanisms behind teenagers’ increased attraction to rewards. Are there neurobiological differences at play?
  • The influence of other factors like social pressure, peer influence, and individual differences is not addressed in detail.
  • The long-term implications of this tendency and potential interventions to help teenagers manage distractions are not fully explored.

While the evidence supports the claim in a specific context, further research is needed for a broader and more nuanced understanding of teenagers’ susceptibility to distraction and its underlying causes.

Discussion Answers

Are you surprised by the findings of this study? Why or why not?

Points supporting the findings:

  • The study aligns with existing research on adolescent brain development, which shows that the prefrontal cortex, responsible for decision-making and impulse control, is still maturing in teenagers.
  • The findings resonate with common observations about teenage behavior, such as their tendency to engage in risky activities for social rewards or struggle to resist distractions like social media.

Points to consider for broader understanding:

  • The study involved a relatively small sample size and used a specific type of reward (money). More research with larger and diverse samples and exploring different types of rewards is needed for generalizability.
  • The study doesn’t delve into the underlying neurobiological mechanisms driving teenagers’ increased attraction to rewards.
  • The influence of other factors like social pressure, peer influence, and individual differences is not fully addressed.

Therefore, while the findings offer valuable insights, they should be viewed within the context of ongoing research and considering the limitations of the study design.

I believe further exploration is crucial to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the complex factors influencing teenage behavior and susceptibility to distraction.

In paragraph 11, one scientist makes the claim that the results of the study, which suggest that teens are more easily distracted by potential rewards, help prove why teens are more likely to engage in irresponsible behavior. In your opinion, is this a strong argument? What might be some other reasons teenagers make poor choices?

The claim that the study results definitively “prove” teenagers are more likely to engage in irresponsible behavior due to reward attraction has some limitations and requires further consideration:

Limitations of the claim:

  • Correlation vs. causation: The study demonstrates a correlation between reward seeking and attention in teenagers, but it doesn’t directly prove a causal relationship between this and all irresponsible behavior. Other factors like peer pressure, impulsivity, or lack of experience could also play a role.
  • Generalizability: The study used a specific reward scenario (money) and a limited sample group. Applying the findings to all types of rewards and diverse teenage populations requires further research.
  • Individual differences: The study doesn’t account for individual variations in personality, risk tolerance, and decision-making styles among teenagers.

Additional reasons for teenage “poor choices”:

  • Brain development: The prefrontal cortex, responsible for planning and impulse control, matures gradually throughout adolescence. This can lead to impulsivity and difficulty considering long-term consequences.
  • Social influences: Peer pressure, desire for social acceptance, and wanting to appear mature can lead teenagers to engage in risky or irresponsible behavior.
  • Emotional regulation: Difficulty managing emotions and stress can lead teenagers to seek coping mechanisms like substance use or risky activities.
  • Lack of experience: Limited life experience and potential for misjudging risks can contribute to teenagers making seemingly poor choices.
  • Environmental factors: Socioeconomic disadvantage, exposure to violence, or lack of positive role models can influence behavior negatively.


While the study sheds light on one aspect of teenage behavior, attributing all “irresponsible” choices solely to reward attraction is an oversimplification.

A nuanced understanding requires considering various factors like brain development, social influences, individual differences, and environmental contexts. Further research exploring these interactions would provide a more comprehensive picture.

In the context of this article, how can science define the identity of a teenager? Where does it fall short?

Defining the identity of a teenager solely through science is complex and faces limitations. While science can offer valuable insights, relying solely on it presents an incomplete picture. Here’s a breakdown:

Science’s contribution to defining teenage identity:

  • Brain development: Studies on the maturing prefrontal cortex help explain impulsivity and risk-taking tendencies common in teenagers.
  • Neurobiology: Research on reward systems and dopamine sensitivity can shed light on why teenagers might be more attracted to immediate rewards.
  • Genetics: Understanding the role of genes in influencing personality and decision-making can offer additional clues.

Limitations of a purely scientific approach:

  • Reductionism: Reducing a complex concept like identity to solely biological and neurological factors oversimplifies the lived experience of being a teenager.
  • Individual differences: Science focuses on general trends, but individual teenagers vary greatly in personality, experiences, and cultural influences that shape their identity.
  • Social and cultural context: Social norms, family dynamics, and cultural expectations significantly impact how teenagers develop their identity, which science alone cannot fully capture.
  • Dynamic nature: Identity constantly evolves, making it challenging to capture through static scientific measurements.

In conclusion:

While science can contribute valuable insights into aspects of teenage identity related to brain development and biological influences, it cannot fully define it.

A comprehensive understanding requires integrating these insights with the social, cultural, and individual variations that shape each teenager’s unique journey towards self-discovery.

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