Specific brain changes that are observed in adolescents include the development of synaptic pruning and axon and myelination growth. As a result, the number of neurons used for effective brain functioning decreases, but useful synaptic connections become stronger because of the growth of myelin in nerve cells (“Inside the teenage brain,” 2014). These processes are associated with the changes in the prefrontal cortex and the impact of hormones on the limbic system. Consequently, the limbic system associated with emotions develops quicker than the other parts of the brain responsible for emotional regulation, control, reasoning, analysis, and decision-making (Berger, 2016). Thus, the prefrontal cortex develops gradually in adolescence, leading to the prolonged process of maturation.
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The changes in an adolescent’s thinking processes and behaviors related to shifting from the limbic system to the prefrontal cortex in the brain are associated with active emotional and moral development. Teenagers become sensitive and focused on strong emotions, but the lack of control connected with the underdeveloped regulation function in the prefrontal cortex often causes risky behaviors in adolescents (Spinks, 2014). On the one hand, adolescents become concentrated on sensations, but they cannot effectively analyze the consequences of their behaviors (Berger, 2016). On the other hand, teenagers’ reasoning, reactions, and thinking actively develop.
In the situation of the lack of control and decision-making, adolescents demonstrate certain risky behaviors. They include drinking, using drugs, driving, choosing extreme sports, attending parties, and using guns. Furthermore, teenagers often choose text messaging when driving which causes car accidents (Berger, 2016; Spinks, 2014). These risky behaviors can be discussed as provoked by the effect of hormones on the development of the limbic system. As a result, adolescents focus on risky behaviors because of the mismatch between the limbic system development and the changes in the prefrontal cortex.
Berger, K. S. (2016). Invitation to the life span (3rd ed.). New York., NY: Worth Publishers.
Inside the teenage brain. (2014). Web.
Spinks, S. (2014). One reason teens respond differently to the world: Immature brain circuitry. Web.