Brain Development During Adolescence

Decent Essays

For many years it was believed that the brain stopped developing within the first few years of life but it is now known that the brain continues to develop through adolescence. Scientists were able to make this discovery by studying the brain through MRIs. They have determined that adolescence is a crucial and sensitive time for growth in humans and that the environments of adolescents determines their functions and mental state for adulthood. This information is important to teaching and parenting which both occur during adolescence. It also is able to help explain the way that adolescents act during this stage in their life. During the first three years of life humans absorb a wealth of information like language, how to walk and social and …show more content…

These parts include the prefrontal cortex (especially the medial prefrontal cortex), the neurons and the limbic system. The prefrontal cortex is involved in decision making, planning, social interaction, self-awareness and inhibiting inappropriate behavior. Because this is still developing adolescents are still learning how to properly perform these actions. During adolescents there is an increase in grey matter, then a peak around midway, and then a decrease. This is caused by the increase in synapses by learning new things. The decrease is caused by the strengthening of synapses that are used often and the removal of ones that are not. This way the prefrontal cortex is “pruned” (Blakemore). The prefrontal cortex also inhibits risk taking but because it is still developing in adolescents, it is not fully functional. The medial prefrontal cortex is used to make social decisions and take into account the perspective of others. Like other parts of the brain it is still developing. “The medial prefrontal cortex, is more active in adolescents than in adults when thinking about other people's minds” (Blakemore). This may be the reason why teenagers are more inclined to take risks and to gain peer approval. The limbic system is in charge of emotions and reward processing and is hyper sensitive in adolescent’s brains. This is why when teenagers take those risks there is a heightened sense of approval from their

Get Access