Aaron White

aaron white
Aaron White, PhD is a brain researcher with a doctorate in biological psychology. His graduate research at Miami University (in Ohio) and post-doctoral work at Duke University Medical Center focused on the effects of alcohol and other drugs on brain function – particularly memory formation – and changes in the brain during adolescence.

From 2001 to 2008, Dr. White was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, Division of Medical Psychology, at Duke University Medical Center. During those years, his research expanded to include adolescent alcohol use, adolescent substance abuse treatment and the development of education and prevention efforts aimed at helping teens, families and communities navigate the hurdles of adolescence and keep healthy brain development on track. He helped create a successful online alcohol education and prevention program, called AlcoholEdu, which has been completed by more than 2,000,000 college students to date.

Dr. White’s most recent book is What Are They Thinking?!: The Straight Facts about the Risk-Taking, Social-Networking, Still-Developing Teen Brain. Adolescence has long been characterized as the “storm and stress” years, and with recent developments in digital communication, it seems today’s teens are in for a more complicated journey than ever before. Even the most sympathetic, “in-touch” parents might throw their hands up in frustration at their teen’s unpredictable and risky behavior and ask: what are they thinking?!

It turns out that teens’ thrill-seeking activities and quests for independence aren’t just the result of raging hormones, but rather typical effects of the unique structure and development of the adolescent brain. In easily navigable chapters full of practical anecdotes and examples, acclaimed scientists Aaron White and Scott Swartzwelder draw from the most recent studies on the teen brain to illuminate the complexities of issues such as school, driving, social networking, video games, and mental health in kids whose crucial brain connections are just coming online.

Dr. White is also the author of Keeping Adolescence Healthy: Exploring the Issues Facing Today’s Kids and Communities, which examines the facts surrounding issues like videogame violence, bullying and school shootings, adolescent psychological disorders, drinking and drug use, body image and the media, diet and exercise and more. 

In the fall of 2008, Dr. White joined the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism where he continues his work promoting healthy adolescent development.

Over the years, he has appeared on major news networks in the U.S. and overseas, published more than 40 scientific manuscripts and two books, and has spoken internationally about adolescent brain development and other topics related to adolescent health.

Below are publications related to some of Dr. White’s interests (links download pdfs):

Chapters from Dr. White’s book, Keeping Adolescence Healthy: Exploring the Issues Facing Today’s Kids and Communities (BookSurge Publishing, 2008):

  • Table of Contents
  • Chapter 6: Experimentation, exploration and teen drug use – Putting things in perspective
  • Chapter 7: Rethinking underage drinking – What science says about the risks and how to minimize them

Below is an interview with Dr. White on CNN: