The Teenage Brain

With four teenagers at home, I witness every day the strange thought processes they have. We've learned from recent research that the human brain undergoes immense changes during adolescence, which are often not finished until the mid-20s. National Geographic looks beyond that research into why the brain goes through such changes in adolescence, and finds it has to do with our evolutionary past. The risks teenagers take are in some ways very adaptive.
Let's start with the teen's love of the thrill. We all like new and exciting things, but we never value them more highly than we do during adolescence. Here we hit a high in what behavioral scientists call sensation seeking: the hunt for the neural buzz, the jolt of the unusual or unexpected.

Seeking sensation isn't necessarily impulsive. You might plan a sensation-seeking experience—a skydive or a fast drive—quite deliberately, as my son did. Impulsivity generally drops throughout life, starting at about age 10, but this love of the thrill peaks at around age 15. And although sensation seeking can lead to dangerous behaviors, it can also generate positive ones: The urge to meet more people, for instance, can create a wider circle of friends, which generally makes us healthier, happier, safer, and more successful.

The entire article is available now in the October issue of National Geographic magazine. Link

(Image credit: Kitra Cahana)

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exactly, this article finally explained why my kids love to drive fast. They look at risk differently and bing silly/stupid/brave gets them lots of attention.! I get it now!
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I taught high school biology for 32 years (read being locked up with a thousand teenagers all day)and experienced first hand some of those developmental changes I learned about in adolescent and educational psychology courses in grad school. The human brain never ceases to amaze me. Technology may allow us to peek in on those physical changes, but we still know so little about these changes and behavior. I just wish people would stop thinking of their children as miniature adults.
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I remember talking on here about adolescent synaptogenesis and the subsequent "pruning" process a number of times in the contexts of criminality, economics and even just adolescent behavior. The fact seemed to have been largely overlooked and still is, or is interpreted in too biased a light to be healthy.

This article presents such a bias, IMO. Drawing on too simplistic reasoning, like; thicker corpus callosum makes for greater transhemispheric integration. If this was true then women are decidely more transhemispherically integrated than men and should be our masters. The difference in collasal "thickness" between men and women is as drastic as the difference between children and adults. The organizational structure of the brain, especially as regards transhemispheric integration, is far too complicated to be reduced in this manner.

It also presents the assumption that the "normal" brain or the brain that can adapt to our modern society is the height of brain development. When in reality it may be a collective delusion which we are expecting children to see value in. Of course if they have no choice but to see value, then they will, or they will be classified as having abnormal brain-development.
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