Teen brains aren’t fully formed

teenbrain3It’s not so much what teenagers are thinking—it’s how. Scientists used to think human brain development was mostly complete by age 10. But recent research about teenagers’ brains is helping us understand developmental activities that might explain why teens behave the way they do.

The gray matter of the brain peaks just before puberty, then gets pruned back as a child goes through adolescence. During this time, some of the most dramatic development takes place in the crucial frontal lobes, the seat of judgment and decision-making.

In the teenage brain, the nerve cells that connect the frontal lobes with the rest of the brain are sluggish. The nerves need a fatty coating called myelin, or “white matter,” for nerve signals to flow freely. But teens don’t have as much myelin yet as adults do in the frontal lobe area, resulting in inefficient communication between one part of the brain and another. So in teens, the part of the brain that governs judgment is the last to be fully connected.

Teens may also have a neural excuse for self-centeredness. Research presented at the BA Festival of Science in 2006 indicated that when considering an action that would affect others, teens were less likely than adults to use the medial prefrontal cortex, an area associated with empathy and guilt. Instead, the way that teens actually learn empathy is by practicing socializing.

At Optiminds, we understand that learning is the act of making and strengthening connections between thousands of neurons. Our brain fitness programs help people of all ages achieve new levels of brain performance. We can tailor a cognitive training program to meet your teen’s specific needs so they can improve at school and build a solid foundation for success in life.

Learn more about us by calling Optiminds today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at: optimindsct.com.

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