Knowing how the brain of teenagers works will help us understand you better. Thanks to science, and neuroscience, we can better study its changes and the connections that occur in the brain of adolescents. All this information will help us to better understand your mood swings, the need for risk or to feel integrated and accepted in the group.
In adolescence, the brain changes significantly, no longer works like children’s, nor does adults. We must see adolescence as a period of high neural plasticity.
How does the teenager’s brain work
The part of the brain that takes the longest to mature is the Prefrontal Cortex, the part of decision-making, self-control and self-evaluation. This is one of the reasons why teens do not have built-in certain emotional abilities.
Other brain regions also change a lot during adolescence. It is the Temporal Cortex, involved in language, memory and understanding of social situations, and the Parietal Cortex, related to movement planning, space navigation and multisensory processing.
Another very big change in the brain in adolescence occurs in the prefrontal lobes, which affects executive functions, allow us to plan and coordinate decisions and actions, be mentally flexible and self-control.
Advantages of the teenager when it comes to learning
Various studies claim that the adolescent brain has the advantage of learning better through reward. At this stage the human brain has a more intense response to the reward than then, as an adult. This way of working the brain facilitates impulsivity, exposure to risks, and a greater propensity to develop addictions.
According to a study by the neuroscientist Shohamy, one of the differences between the adolescent brain and the adult is that the first are fully engaged in reward search actions. Shohamy invited 41 teenagers between 13 and 17 years, and 31 adults between 20 and 30, to play a video game that consisted of deciding which flower butterflies would choose. Through images of the brains of teenagers who participated in the experiment, the hippocampus, an important area for memory, became more active. This region worked in conjunction with a reward area called the striatum body, and it did not look altered in adults.
This leads to the conclusion that, in adolescence, both regions work together, and then does not happen. This explains why learnings that have not been significant nor stimulants are removed from memory. Society and the context in which the young person unfolds, can help him modify their IQ level, since they are super active in neuronal synapses.
Adolescence, the vulnerable brain
Neuroscience helps us understand the mechanisms that regulate the control of nerve reactions and the behavior of the brain. This science warns us about the vulnerability of adolescents if they have few hours of sleep. In general, teens should sleep 8 to 9 hours a day. If a teenager falls asleep around 23:00 and we wake him up at 6 or 7 in the morning, it is equivalent to asking an adult to start his day at 3 in the morning.
Another of the vulnerabilities of the brain of adolescents, is that they are faced with greater sensitivity to their emotions. The development of neural connections occurs in the area of the limbic brain, which is where emotions are lodged. This is why they magnify everything. Stress attacks them with greater intensity than an adult, so their reactions are more potent.
The main feature of the brain in adolescence is organization and maturation. Javier Quintero, doctor psychiatry and author of the book The Adolescent Brain, says it is essential to understand and be empathetic with the great biological transformation of adolescents, to address these changes as a possibility of improvement in relationships between parents and children.