August 8, 2008

That Frustrating Teen Brain

While you may have heard about some of the research regarding the development of the adolescent brain, the folks at the MIT Young Adult Development Project are collecting the research data in one place for us.

On their website you can learn about how the adolescent brain develops from back to front. That means that the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for judgment, managing emotions, and complex thinking, doesn’t fully develop until the mid-twenties.

As the MIT-YADP people describe it, young adults have “. . . a kind of mental "visor" that screens out some kinds of phenomena while letting in others for consideration. As development unfolds, one can "see" and think about more and more complex phenomena such as abstractions, relationships, and moral problems, and offering more and more powerful thinking tools.”

As a number of researchers have suggested, the insurance and rental car companies have it right. The teen brain isn't fully mature at 16, when they are allowed to drive, or at 18, when they are allowed to vote, or at 21, when they are allowed to drink. In fact, it's not fully wired until they are closer to 25, when they are allowed to rent a car and their insurance rates begin to get reasonable.

Visit the MIT Young Adult Development Project website for a great short-course on the young male brain. It will explain a lot about teen behavior and maybe replace some frustration at their choices with understanding and even compassion.

1 comment:

  1. Mark H.5:42 PM

    The regular use of drugs and alcohol during the entire phase of neurological development will obviously have some effect.

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