Developing Teenage Brain
a myth that at birth the brain is fully developed, like the
heart or the stomach. New
studies, applying the use of modern technology, reveal
surprising findings that show brain growth, patterns of
development, reorganized connections and structural changes
as a child grows and develops into adulthood.
For example, it was previously
thought that grey matter growth was completed at about 18
matter is the “thinking” part of the brain.
However, current findings reveal that teenage grey
matter waxes and wanes within the different functional brain
areas at different times of development.
show that just prior to puberty that grey matter growth spurts
predominate in the frontal lobe section.
This is the corner stone of where executive functions take
place, i.e. planning, impulse control and reasoning.
However at about ages 11 and 12 in both girls and boys, this
growth peaks, after which this grey matter actually thins a bit.
to the brain’s white matter, this area shows progressive
thickening from birth in humans.
functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), other studies suggest
how a teen may process emotions differently compared to adults. Based on brain activity during actual testing of teenagers,
younger teens performed poorly, as this test activated the amygdala,
located deep in the center of the brain.
This part of the brain is responsible for fear and gut
reactions. As teens
grow older, the brain activity shifts to the frontal lobe, resulting
in more reasoned perceptions and improved performance.
when other skills tasks, such as language skills tasks were given, a
shift from within the brain’s temporal lobe took place to the
frontal lobe, as teens got older.
This and other functional changes were parallel to the
structural changes taking place in the temporal white matter.
our complex brains there are billions of neurons and their
dendrites, which resemble wire-like fibers.
These dendrites are the wiring or the intricate network of
called myelin, envelopes these fibers rendering them more efficient
with improved conductivity. Specialized
methods can provide a magnified view of the neuron and its many
dendrites revealing that nerve cells are highly interconnected
whereby each nerve cell may make thousands upon thousands of
connections with other nerve cells from each dendrite.
connections allow neural communication to take place. Understanding how neural communication occurs is one key to
understanding how memories are stored and how learning occurs.
Disruption of normal activity at these connections can be
part of the cause leading to various disorders, learning
disabilities and mental illness.
It is here that perhaps solutions to these problems will one
day be found.
Elyse O’Desky, Pediatric Neuro-Psychologist for the Neurological
Testing Center and Professor at Kean University
presented the topic about The
Developing Teenage Brain & Executive Functions
along with many conditions that can effect children through Programs
sponsored by The CHILD Organization.
Professional development hours are also available for this program.
A Susan Ibarra Publication, All Rights Reserved
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