The neuroscience of the adolescent brain

Cognitive neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore highlights the period of life when the brain is rapidly developing and quite malleable, known as adolescence, in this TED Talk. She describes her research in which she uses neuroimaging to compare the adolescent’s prefrontal cortex and limbic system to that of adults, noting that there are many ways in which activity levels shift as we emerge from adolescence. Subjects in experiments perform different socially-based tasks, and differences by age are notable. She has come to view adolescence as a period of much opportunity for learning and openness for growth, education, intervention, and social development. She argues that rather than viewing behaviors characteristic of adolescents (such as poor impulse control, heightened risk-taking, self-centeredness) as problematic, these behaviors “reflect changes in the brain that provide an excellent opportunity for education and social development.”

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