When teens and young adults say no-one understands them, there’s more truth to the statement than they may realise. A lot happens to change their neurological, psychological, and social conditions.
The human brain develops from the back to the front, i.e. from posterior to the anterior regions which are associated with particular functions. Research has shown that whilst below the age of 10 years changes are more pronounced in the back of the brain (posterior regions associated with seeing, hearing etc), between the ages of 10-22 years more changes are observed to be occurring at the front of the brain, with the dorsolateral frontal cortex developing latest, a region associated with planning / executive functions.
So during adolescence and young adulthood the brain is undergoing the final stretch of development, which means that the logical, decision-making prefrontal parts of the brain finish their significant development after changes happen to regions such as the amygdala, an area associated with emotions. Research has shown that factors such as stress, responsibility, the ability to practice risky behaviour, evolving relationships, quality of sleep, existing conditions in attention, and many more factors can have significant impacts on brain development, just as the “use it or lose it” principle strengthens some connections while pruning others.
We all know that adolescence and young adulthood is the time when individuals typically start achieving their independence and are faced with increased responsibilities, yet this age group is underrepresented in neuroscience studies.
Join us as we discuss this critical time window of brain plasticity with fellow scientists.