Teenage dating behavior
So she decided to use her skills as a neuroscientist to explore what was happening under the hood.“I realized I had an experiment going on in my own home,” says Jensen, author of That was about 10 years ago, when society at large was only beginning to catch up to the idea that the teen brain was not a fully developed adult brain, just with less mileage.It felt as if he turned into an angst-filled teenager overnight.Jensen, now the chair of the neurology department at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, wondered what happened and whether Andrew’s younger brother would undergo the same metamorphosis.Myelination, the scientific name for this process, strengthens and accelerates the communication between brain regions and underlies a person’s basic learning abilities.
“In adults, these connections have been strengthening with experience and maturation, but during adolescence, the connections are not fully developed, so it’s more difficult for a teenager to shut off these emotional systems.” MORE: 7 Signs You’re Dealing With a Passive-Aggressive Person This new understanding of the biology that underlies these behaviors can be helpful to both teenagers and their parents.
“It’s why my teenage boys would come home without their textbook and realize at 8 p.m. They don’t have the fully developed capacity to think ahead at this time.” Although the development of the prefrontal cortex is the last step on the development checklist, teenagers undergo major changes in their limbic system—the area of the brain that controls emotions—at the onset of puberty, which is typically around the ages of 10 to 12.
Doctors now believe that this mismatch in development of the impulse-control part of the brain and the hormone- and emotion-fueled part of the brain is what causes the risk-taking behaviors that are so common among teenagers.
That means the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain involved in decision-making, planning and self-control, is the last part to mature.
It’s not that teens don’t have frontal- lobe capabilities but rather that their signals are not getting to the back of the brain fast enough to regulate their emotions.
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This growth in connectivity presents itself as white matter in the brain, which comes from a fatty substance called myelin.