Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Teenage Brain

Something I have heard oh so many times is that, because as teenagers and young adults our brains are not "fully developed", we are "bad" decision makers, and not to be trusted.  It's a very frustrating attitude, that really seems to twist scientific data to suite anti-teen feelings in our culture.  What constitutes "bad decision making", anyway?  That's a very subjective opinion.

When I found this post a while back, I simply loved it.  It deals with just that subject, and does so in such a wonderfully positive, pro-people way.  It reads in part:
"Though Teen brains may indeed not possess myelin sheaths that adults brains have, that doesn’t make them 'unfinished', in the sense that the article portrays: foolish, flawed, poor decision makers.

Without Teen’s 'unfinished' brains 99% of the risk taking done in the name of love, art, idealism, adventure, protecting family, would disappear.

Teens excel at taking risks because they have perfectly developed brains for doing so.

Saying they have unfinished brains compares to saying a new moon hasn’t 'finished' until it swells to a full moon. The Teen brain marks one moment in the cycle of the brains life where it has enormous potential for one kind of behavior - risk taking, adventure, romantic expression."
I urge you to read the whole post.  It's not very long.  Personally, I just loved it, and will send it straight to the next person who seeks to silence and dis-empower a teen by telling them of their faulty brains!



  1. have you seen this article too?

  2. Idzie - I have two teenagers at the moment - they both totally rock and it really pisses me off when people trash teenagers - thanks for sharing this article!

  3. Yeah. It's difficult that the moment at which the most stressful human passions and the most energetic vim (I guess the most pensive laziness too)- seems to be teenagehood. This is also the moment at which people struggle to find a role for themselves, and yet, this is the point at which education becomes most intense and rigid. Madness. Utter stupidity.

  4. My daughter is 16 and I couldn't agree with you more..:)

  5. usually i turned the table to the teen-trasher:
    what were you like when you were a teen?

    the fact is, we are a whole person with process.
    if people do not like what they are now, chances are they have unfinished business with their youth.
    sometimes people just need to be reminded, the maturity of being a seasoned player in life's game, comes from all the trials, errors, along the adventure.

    i have a son age 16, and among our friends, there are many teenagers. i learn to love them all just the way they are, remembering my own passionate youth loaded with XXXXX, we don't need to go there.
    but all in all, i love my life, i love who i am now, and nothing in the past i want to change. my life here at this point is exactly how i made it. I know what i do now, will affect my next stage.

    each step of the life is to be taken to heart.

    and being with teens inspires me to do more what i really want.

  6. This reminds me of another bit of developmental psych related to adolescents:
    Jean Piaget pioneered our understanding of cognitive stages: sensorimotor (birth - 2), preoperational (talking - 7), concrete operational (7 - early adolescence), and formal operational (adolescence on). According to Piaget, adolescent cognitive development is pretty much complete :)

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  8. As a teenager I hated that my intelligence was question. Although I had a friend in high school tell me once that I was self actualized. I talked about issues in the world - environmentalism, Native issues and was a hard core athlete. My life was not "typical" - boys, drugs, partying and alcohol. I avoided that stuff at all costs - and frankly, it was just boring to me. Not to say that all teenagers do that stuff but as you know there is a pressure to do that stuff. You are like me though and on a more alternative path in life.

    I do know that the frontal lobe in our brains is developing up until we are 25 or 26. I feel a big difference in my dreams, goals and aspirations from age 16/17/18 to now age 28. I feel more practical and real about stuff now. This could also be that I have "grown up," in many ways. Who knows! :)