Monday, March 14, 2005

Your Brain with Time- What About Teen Brain?

Ok, this is your brain with time. At least from age 5 to 20. It takes a while to 'blue' in as neurons develop their mature coating with white matter and establish connections. Check out the original paper at the link below.


Floating around in the lay press was the idea that 'frontal' delay was what could be contributing to teen impulsive behavior, drinking, other substance abuse etc. The ADHD literature also echoed this in its discussion of the 'hypofrontality' of normal adolescents as well as subjects with ADHD.

The soundbyte of hypofrontal teens may be irresistible to talk about, but all children are hypofrontal by that standard compared to adults. Also, there are a lot of differences at every age - and in other papers we've linked below, teens were found to be better at learning algebraic information in their parietal lobes (spatial, other sensory, imagery) than adults. So which is it- the Hypofrontal Teen or Super-Spatial? Or may be both?

Rather than make the big leap to teen problems, the studies raise some interesting issues for us in education. The reality is that parents' and teachers' brains are different from the brains of teens' and other children's they teach. The most obvious ways for us to learn may not be the obvious ways for them to learn.

In other links below, read about findings show teens having stronger emotional responses to positive and negative pictures (in their amygdala) than young adults or seniors. If you put this result together with the super parietal lobe above (imagery)it might explain the strong teen attraction to graphic media.

BTW, the emotional response paper below also made the interesting observation that emotional responsiveness continues to change into maturity. Seniors, it seemed, retained their responsiveness to positive emotional images, but they didn't respond as strongly to negative stuff. That might tell us something interesting too.

Brain with Time
Algebra in Adolescents Commentary
Adolescent Algebra
Age Effects on Emotional Responses
Hypofrontality in ADHD

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