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Teens’ Brain Growth and Behavior Linked

 Some Teens Emotions are Developing Faster Than the Parts of Their Brains that Manage Those Emotions.

  • A recent study of 137 teens in Australia, studied the brain structure of teens who often fight with their parents, and teens who are laid back. The study placed the teens and their parents in  20 minute problem-solving interactions. These PSI’s were based on a list of 44 topics which teens and adults often disagree on, such as “teens talking back to an adult,”  or “adolescent lying.” Each teen was recorded discussing these contentious issues with a parent, and researchers found that the parts of the brain that focus on emotional responses were developing slower in the teens who did not fight with their parents, and those same parts of the brain were developing at a more rapid rate in the teens who seemed aggressive towards their parents. Increased duration of aggressive behaviors was also associated with a larger amygdale chemical volume. (Increased amygdala activity has previously been reported in aggressive adults.) Differences were also noted in male and female brain development, where females were often less aggressive than males.  Lead researcher Nicholas Allen of the University of Melbourne said that the teen’s  “emotions are developing much faster than are the parts of the brain that help them to manage those emotions.” [1]

     

    [1] Prefrontal and amygdala volumes are related to adolescents’ affective behaviors during parent-adolescent interactions, PNAS vol. 105 no. 9 March 4, 2008; pp. 3652-3657

     


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