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Adolescent Brain Development and Its Peculiarities

The prevailing opinion of many researchers has always been connected with the fact that the primary process of brain development is in the first years of life (TED, 2012). However, the emergence of new technologies, in particular, MRI, has made a significant contribution to the study of neurophysiological features of the human. Scientists have the opportunity to study the development of the brain and monitor any possible changes that occur within it. Also, Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, a speaker, mentions FMRT, an innovative diagnostic technique. It allows making dative and quality videos of any area of the human brain (TED, 2012).

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According to Blakemore, this part of the body is actively developing not only in childhood but also in adolescence, as well as in adults (TED, 2012). Nevertheless, the speaker emphasizes that it is during a teenage period that significant changes occur (TED, 2012). This age, as it is known, is characterized by hormonal and physiological processes that indicate puberty. If it is about the brain, the most pronounced changes occur in the prefrontal cortex, which is remarkably larger in humans than other living beings. According to the TED video (2012), studies show that the development of this area undergoes significant changes precisely in adolescence. The amount of gray matter is the maximum during this period of a person’s life (boys experience it a few years later than girls). Over time, this activity decreases, and it is due to the formation of all the systems of the body and the brain in particular. Perhaps, it is one of the central peculiarities, and it is the object of many modern studies conducted in laboratories around the world.

Possibilities of Adolescent Brain

As Blakemore notes, there is one area of the prefrontal cortex that is more developed in adolescents than in adults, and it is the medial site (TED, 2012). It is most active when young people think about various social actions and adapts their behavior in different situations. The primary feature that characterizes this area is the fact that its activity decreases over time. It is due to the complicated connection of the brain synapses. Those links that are used most often remain and those that are not needed are cut off. Perhaps, it is the reason why the activity of this area of the cortex decreases in the process of growing up.

Besides, adults and adolescents use different decision strategies. Brain areas that are necessary to memorize a specific rule and apply it are fully formed by the middle of adolescence when a boy or girl can react to changes and quickly adapt to particular conditions. According to Dumontheil (2016), adolescents are predisposed to risk and also “exhibit increased neural reactivity to emotions and rewards” (p. 39). The limbic system is responsible for the analysis of such situations. This area is located in the depth of the brain. It is due to the limbic system that adolescents experience joy and satisfaction from praise and superiority over others, as this sector is the most developed in teenagers.

Even though the activity of the human brain decreases and the volume of gray matter decreases over time, studies in this sphere are still important. The speaker of the video notes that today’s teenagers have quite a lot of potential that must be developed (TED, 2012). Therefore, the study of all these features of the brain is quite an exciting and urgent task of modern neurophysiology.


Dumontheil, I. (2016). Adolescent brain development. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 10, 39-44.

TED. (2012). Sarah-Jayne Blakemore: The mysterious workings of the adolescent brain [Video file]. Web.

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