The Teenage Brain – More Happening Than You Know

How often has a teenagers behaviour absolutely confounded you?

Why is it that apparently smart, intelligent, and level headed young people seem to make some of the dumbest and most questionable decisions?

Have you always thought a teenager’s overly emotional response was due to raging hormones?

The answers to many of those questions could be found in the teenage brain and its development, or lack there of it.

Some of the biggest advances in adolescent studies over the past decade have been understanding the formation processes that are still occurring in the teenage brain. Many adolescent behaviours previously attributed to other biological or or developmental factors appear to be attributable to the asymmetrical brain development.

The video below gives a decent outline of some of what has been discovered about teenagers and their brains.

What Does This Mean For Teens

The Amygdala is the part of the brain is which processes emotion, and it is this part of the brain that undergoes development in early adolescence.

The Frontal Cortex is the part of the brain that which is responsible for higher order thinking, judgment, and planning .  This part of the brain tends to mature a bit later.

Hence teenagers tend to process and respond with gut or emotional reactions. The teenage brain has not developed its executive control processes to adequately control these passions.  Hence it is  like having a powerful sports car with bad steering and poor brakes.

Particular effects of teenage behaviour and  development attributable to these connection still forming include:

  • Risk Taking Behaviour– The absence of Frontal Cortex control, and the desire for experience of emotional and physical sensation contributes to increased risk taking.
  • Inability to discern moods of others – Teenagers tend to process information about others with the Amygdala not the Frontal Cortex, particularly early in teen years, giving a less accurate read on what is happening.
  • Increased Moodiness– Amygdala orientated dominance means that teenagers may respond with emotion and are more subject to their feelings without capacity for more rational response.
  • Lifestyle Matters – Research has also shown that the brain and its connections are still developing, hence what teenagers do with their time effects the way the brain develops.

Further Information

For more information some helpful sources are:

The Secrets of the Teenage Brain (Time Magazine)

Inside the Teenage Brain (Frontline)

Discovery Health


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