Teenage Brain and Thinking Processes

Having read and viewed the resources on the adolescent brain and the adolescent transition years, what ideas and theories leapt out at you? Did some ideas and theories connect with your own teenage experience? Were you surprised by others? Why did those particular concepts stand out?

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The first idea about the study of the teenage brain that leaps to mind is the theory of the adolescent crisis. As a teenager, I did not experience it; however, both at present and in the past, parents often mentioned that children in their teens exhibit alienated and unexplained behavior. Adolescents can be unbearable in many aspects of their lives, being hostile to the immediate family and friends. What caught my attention was that teenagers rarely exhibit inadequate behavior without having some reasons for it. Both brain function and structure are actively changing at that time. The links between different parts of the brain, accountable for undergoing emotions and logical reasoning, become stronger (Steinberg, 2011). Therefore, teenagers learn to acquire more self-control, although it happens towards the end of the teenage period.

The second theory found in research that stroke as surprising was the idea that adolescent individuals can develop stronger feelings. Returning to the example of my teenage years, I remember the delight of things that seem ordinary now, like walking in the rain or going camping with friends. Indeed, the emotions were brighter, and the feeling of excitement was surrounding many aspects of my life. According to Steinberg (2011,) “things that feel good feel better during adolescence” (p. 45), which is practical reasoning for explaining why teenagers may experience emotions differently. It is a well-known fact that a substance called dopamine is in charge of positive emotions. In the early teenage years, the concentration of dopamine is higher than it used to be previously or will be in the future stages of human development. Nevertheless, experiencing emotions in an enhanced manner can be regarded as an ambiguous privilege. Teenagers can seek enjoyment and get into risky situations or even develop an addiction, as stated by Knox (2010).

The third theory that cannot be ignored after the exploration of studies on the teenage brain is the inability of teenagers to control their emotions. Inadequate upbringing is usually associated with this; however, the lack of control over one’s emotions may also be caused by the changes in the structure and function of the brain. These changes lead to the discrepancy between so-called “cold” and “hot” cognition (Knox, 2010). Most teenagers can employ adequate control of emotions with regards to logical matters such as solving mathematic problems; although, emotion-provoking situations make them behave in unexpected ways. If to return to my teenage years once again, I can remember myself reacting unexpectedly when arguing with my parents. It took a lot of time and strength to take my emotions under control and have a calm conversation about a topic on which I had a different opinion; however, as time went by, my ability to control emotions strengthened.

The ideas and theories presented in the paragraphs above resonated with me on a personal level because I also was a teenager who experienced similar things. It can be concluded that the processes in the human brain have a more significant impact on the way teenagers behave rather than their upbringing or personality traits.

Explain at least three ideas or theories or findings in the research you read that caught your attention and explore why those pieces of information stood out to you. This post should be written as three paragraphs (or more, if you like) in one post to this forum.

The human brain has been a matter of research for decades. Still, there is much to be discovered. Modern technology facilitated the investigations that allowed scientists to look closely and the human brain and find the processes that occur within it. For instance, the Institute of Mental Health has been studying the way the teenage brain is functioning. One of the most important contributions of the Institute’s work is the comparison of teenage and adult brains regarding their reactions to various emotions. The study has revealed that adolescents experience difficulties with attributing emotions to the facial expressions of adults (Public Broadcasting Service, 2002). For example, in one of the experiments, adolescents were shown pictures depicting different facial expressions. Many of them saw anger in the picture that showed fear. This fact may explain the misunderstandings in communication between parents and their teenage children.

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Furthermore, the teenage period appears to be dangerous in respect of obsessions and addictions. Being emotional and sensitive, adolescents quickly gain new habits, both good and bad. As the teenage brain is excitable, it is “vulnerable to addictions” (Knox, para. 18). In such situations, parents should take a wise approach in order not to escalate the problem; they should allow their son or daughter to see possible consequences of bad habits like drinking alcohol or using drugs on their own.

Finally, the greatest controversy about the teenage period lies in the idea that young people are already not children but are still not adults. They consider themselves mature, remaining dependent on their parents more than they would like to admit. Today’s youngsters differ much from their parents in their adolescence. They are brought up with technologies (Plensky, 2013) and are more likely to trust advice on a web forum than that of their parents.

Now that you’ve read the opening chapters to your class texts (Lehman & Roberts, FIsher & Frey), how well do the opening ideas within these texts fit with your readings on the adolescent brain? What connections do you see?

The principles of close reading, in my opinion, closely echo the principles of conduct around children that are growing up. To parents, a child may seem a “book that they have already read from cover to cover.” However, one day, this familiar offspring becomes an “unread book,” a teenager. In the same way in which close reading presupposes interaction of a reader and a text (Lehman & Roberts, 2013), living with an adolescent means close communication every day.

An integral component of close reading is making careful observations. Parents should observe attentively the changes happening with their children due to their brain transformations. Similarly to close reading, which is organized in accordance with the students’ needs, parents of teenagers should build their communication in such a way that will suit the needs of their children. This does not mean fulfilling every demand; on the other hand, it means to be close, present, attentive, and ready to give a helping hand.

References

Knox, R. (2010). The teen brain: It’s just not grown up yet. Web.

Lehman, Ch., & Roberts, K. (2013). Falling in love with close reading: Lessons for analyzing texts and life. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

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Plensky, M. (2013). Our brains extended. Educational Leadership, 70 (6), 22-27.

Public Broadcasting Service. (2002). Inside the teenage brain [Video file]. Web.

Steinberg, L. (2011). Demystifying the adolescent brain. Web.

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