Between childhood and adulthood our hormones
kick-start a phase of significant change. And while the physical changes of adolescence
may be obvious, less visible are the changes that these hormones trigger in our brains. Which might just be responsible for turning
our teenage years into a bit of a roller coaster. Throughout our lives our brains undergo a process
called neural pruning. The synapses, through which our neurons communicate
are either lost or strengthened, depending on how much we use them. Well-used synapses grow strong, while the
weaker ones fade away. It’s this process that makes us capable of
faster, clearer and complex thought as we grow up. But, crucially, pruning at different rates
in different areas of the brain. By the time we’re adolescents the neural networks
that communicate emotion, risk and reward are well developed, while others that may
help us to plan, prioritise, think logically and moderate our social behaviour are yet
to mature. So, a potential mismatch between our emotion
and judgement arises just as our emotional and social worlds are becoming more complex,
making an increase in social anxiety quite normal at this time. Researchers at the University of Oxford want
to know how this might affect our behaviour as we progress through our teenage years. In a recent study, they focused on social
worries many of us feel as adolescents. When presented with photographs of ambiguous
social scenes, and asked to imagine themselves in the picture, anxious younger teens were
more likely than others to perceive negativity. But, while these heightened emotions and the
struggle to control them can make adolescence a difficult time for some, it’s also a golden
time for learning and growth. The adolescent brain is particularly agile
and flexible, and as such it’s especially open to new opportunities, new technologies
and new experiences. So while our teenage years may feel pretty
weird, they’re also pretty wonderful. To explore how your brain develops visit www.oxfordsparks.ox.ac.uk
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6 thoughts on “Brain Development in Teenagers

  1. now that I'm in my late 20's i don't miss anything of my teen life. I was such a failure, as a teen. f*** my teen life !

  2. The background music is disturbing and overlaps with the speaker. I recommend to either lower the sound down, or use something which is not that intense and active next time.

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