The new National Geographic features a fascinating article by David Dobbs on the teen brain (via @abnormalreturns).It explains some of the known drawbacks of teenagers from the point of view of a parent (David Dobbs) whose son was pulled over for driving 113 miles per hour.
Here are a few great facts we learned:
- The brain’s white matter develops from age 12 to 25, increasing transmission speed and thought complexity. During this process of maturity the brain is unbalanced and may pay attention to one part — reward — and ignore another part — risk.
- Before the white matter fully develops, the brain is actually more developmentally flexible. This is why a teen can learn new skills from language to video games faster.
- Sensation-seeking, risk-taking and peer association are cerebral urges that peak in teenagers.
- Teens rightfully believe that “knowing, understanding, and building relationships with” their peers can be more important than listening to their parents. Dobbs writes: “Knowing this might make it easier to abide the hysteria of a 13-year-old deceived by a friend or the gloom of a 15-year-old not invited to a party. These people! we lament. They react to social ups and downs as if their fates depended upon them! They’re right. They do.”
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