What do you think? Is this true or an old wives' tale? We may be inclined to agree, but this is not a correct statement. We would like to shed some light on the developing teenage brain and share a few points that may be helpful to caregivers in understanding the complexities of adolescence.
Let's take a closer look and see what the research has been able to uncover. It is true that hormones do increase during adolescence, but it is actually the changes that take place in the adolescent brain that cause all the drama we see. There are times that we, as adults, tend to think that teenagers are immature; some of their behaviors do reflect poor decision making skills. However, it is important to remember that the teen brain is not immature, it is remodeling, which is totally different.
In short, the teenage brain uses the amygdala (the emotional part of the brain) more than the pre frontal cortex (the executive functioning part of the brain). This is because the amygdala forms prior to the pre frontal cortex forming. As a result, teens are much more apt to be emotional than adults. For example, teens are much more likely to act on impulse, engage in risky behaviors or misinterpret social cues because the part of the brain that helps with decision making skills (pre frontal cortex), will not be developed for a few more years. Research now shows that the brain is not fully formed until the age of twenty-five.
The good news is there is not a point of no return for the adolescent brain - even for those who have experienced trauma. Unfortunately, many of our youth who have been exposed to the child welfare system have experienced some form of trauma and loss. However, the brain can actually "rewire itself" when it has the opportunity to experience healthy interactions and positive influences. This is something to be excited about; science has proven that it is never too late!
For those of you who would like to learn more about the teen brain and how previous traumatic experiences play a role in development, please plan to attend one of our trainings that we offer throughout the state of Nebraska.
Why Do They Act That Way?: A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen By David Walsh Ph.D
Your Child's Growing Mind: Brain Development and Learning From Birth to Adolescence By Jane Healy Ph.D
Traumatic Experience and the Brain By David Ziegler Ph.D
The Whole Brain Child By Daniel Hughes Ph.D
Beneath the Mask By Debbie Riley M.S.