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A mismatch in the maturation of brain networks leaves adolescents open to risky behavior but also allows for leaps in cognition and adaptability
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32 Scientific American, June 2015
© 2015 Scientific American
June 2015, 33
A mismatch in the maturation of brain networks
leaves adolescents open to risky behavior but also
allows for leaps in cognition and adaptability
By Jay N. Giedd
MRI studies show that the teenage brain is not an
old child brain or a half-baked adult brain; it is a
unique entity characterized by change ability and an
increase in networking among brain regions.
The limbic system, which drives emotions, intensi-
es at puberty, but the prefrontal cortex, which con-
trols impulses, does not mature until the 20s. This
mismatch makes teens prone to risk taking but also
allows them to adapt readily to their environment.
Earlier onset of puberty in children worldwide is ex-
panding the years during which the mismatch occurs.
Greater understanding of the teen brain should help
parents and society better distinguish typical behav-
ior from mental illness while helping teens become
the people they want to be.
Jay N. Giedd is chair of the division of child and
adolescent psychiatry at the University of California,
San Diego, and a professor at the Johns Hopkins
Bloomberg School of Public Health. He is also editor
in chief of the journal Mind, Brain, and Education.
Illustration by Harry Campbell, Photograph by Ethan Hill
© 2015 Scientific American© 2015 Scientific American
34 Scientific American, June 2015
Neuroscientists have explained the risky, aggressive or just plain
baing behavior of teenagers as the product of a brain that is
somehow compromised. Groundbreaking research in the past
10years, however, shows that this view is wrong. The teen brain
is not defective. It is not a half-baked adult brain, either. It has
been forged by evolution to function dierently from that of a
child or an adult.
Foremost among the teen brain’s features is its ability to
change in response to the environment by modifying the com-
munications networks that connect brain regions. This special
changeability, or plasticity, is a double-edged sword. It allows
teenagers to make enormous strides in thinking and socializa-
tion. But the morphing landscape also makes them vulnerable
to dangerous behaviors and serious mental disorders.
The most recent studies indicate that the riskiest behaviors
arise from a mismatch between the maturation of networks in
the limbic system, which drives emotions and becomes turbo-
boosted in puberty, and the maturation of networks in the pre-
frontal cortex, which occurs later and promotes sound judgment
and the control of impulses. Indeed, we now know that the pre-
frontal cortex continues to change prominently until well into a
persons 20s. And yet puberty seems to be starting earlier, extend-
ing the “mismatch years.
The plasticity of networks linking brain regions—and not the
growth of those regions, as previously thought—is key to even-
tually behaving like an adult. Understanding that, and knowing
that a widening gap between the development of emotional and
judgment networks is happening in young people today, can
help parents, teachers, counselors and teenagers themselves.
People will better see that behaviors such as risk taking, sensa-
tion seeking, and turning away from parents and toward peers
are not signs of cognitive or emotional problems. They are a nat-
ural result of brain development, a normal part of adolescents
learning how to negotiate a complex world.
The same understanding can also help adults decide when to
intervene. A 15-year-old girl’s departure from her parents’ tastes
in clothing, music or politics may be a source of consternation
for Mom and Dad but does not indicate mental illness. A 16-year-
old boy’s propensity to skateboard without a helmet or to accept
risky dares from friends is not trivial but is more likely a manifes-
tation of short-range thinking and peer pressure than a desire to
hurt himself. Other exploratory and aggressive actions might be
red flags, however. Knowing more about the unique teen brain
will help all of us learn how to separate unusual behavior that is
age-appropriate from that which might indicate illness. Such
awareness could help society reduce the rates of teen addiction,
The “teen bra in
is often ridiculed as an
oxymoron—an example
of biology gone wrong.
sexually transmitted diseases, motor vehicle accidents, unwant-
ed pregnancy, homicide, depression and suicide.
     will be surprised to hear that the brain
of a 16-year-old is dierent from the brain of an eight-year-old.
Yet researchers have had diculty pinning down these dier-
ences in a scientific way. Wrapped in a tough, leathery mem-
brane, surrounded by a protective moat of fluid and completely
encased in bone, the brain is well protected from falls, attacks
from predators—and the curiosity of scientists.
The invention of imaging technologies such as computerized
tomography and positron-emission tomography has o ered some
progress, but because these techniques emit ionizing radiation,
it was unethical to use them for exhaustive studies of youth. The
advent of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) finally provided a
way to lift the veil, oering a safe and accurate way to study the
anatomy and physiology of the brain in people of all ages. Ongo-
ing studies are tracking thousands of twins and single individu-
als throughout their lives. The consistent theme that is emerging
is that the adolescent brain does not mature by getting larger; it
matures by having its dierent components become more inter-
connected and by becoming more specialized.
In MRI scans, the increase in connectivity among brain re -
gions is indicated as greater volumes of white matter. The “white”
in white matter comes from a fatty substance called my elin,
which wraps and insulates the long wire, or axon, that ex tends
from a neurons body. Myelination—the formation of this fatty
sheath—takes place from childhood through adulthood and
significantly speeds up the conduction of nerve impulses among
neurons. Myelinated axons transmit signals up to 100 times fast-
er than unmyelinated ones.
Myelination also accelerates the brain’s information pro-
cessing by helping axons recover quickly after they fire so that
they are ready to send another message. Quicker recovery time
allows up to a 30-fold increase in the frequency with which a
given neuron can transmit information. The combination of
faster transmission and shorter recovery time provides a 3,000-
fold increase in the brains computational bandwidth between
infancy and adulthood, permitting extensive and elaborate net-
working among brain regions.
Recent investigations are revealing another, more nuanced
© 2015 Scientific American
June 2015, 35Illustration by David Killpack (brains) and Jen Christiansen (nodal diagrams)
role for myelin. Neurons integrate information from other neu-
rons but only fire to pass it on if the incoming input exceeds a
certain electrical threshold. If the neuron fires, that action initi-
ates a series of molecular changes that strengthens the synapses,
or connections, between that neuron and the input neurons.
This strengthening of connections forms the basis for learn-
ing. What researchers themselves are now learning is that for
input from nearby and distant neurons to arrive simultaneous-
ly at a given neuron, the transmission must be exquisitely
timed, and myelin is intimately involved in the fine-tuning of
this timing. As children become teenagers, the rapid expansion
of myelin increasingly joins and coordinates activities in dier-
ent parts of the brain on a variety of cognitive tasks.
Scientists can now measure this changing interconnectivity
by applying graph theory, a type of mathematics that quantifies
the relation between “nodes” and “edges” in a network. Nodes
can be any object or detectable entity, such as a neuron or a brain
structure like the hippocampus or a larger region such as the
prefrontal cortex. Edges can be any connections among nodes,
from a physical connection such as a synapse between neurons
to a statistical correlation such as when two parts of the brain
are activated similarly during a cognitive task.
Graph theory has helped me and others to measure how dif-
ferent brain regions develop and become interconnected to one
another and to correlate such features with changes in behavior
and cognition. Brain changes are not confined to adolescence.
Most brain circuits develop in the womb, and many continue to
change throughout life, well beyond the teen years. It turns out,
however, that during that period there is a dramatic increase in
connectivity among brain regions involved in judgment, getting
along with others and long-range planning—abilities that pro-
foundly influence the remainder of a persons life.
    along neurons is developing with age in
adolescents, another change is taking place. Brain development,
like other complex processes in nature, proceeds by a one-two
punch of overproduction, followed by selective elimination.
Like Michelangelo’s David emerging from a block of marble,
many cognitive advances arise during a sculpting process in
which unused or maladaptive brain cell connections are pruned
away. Frequently used connections, meanwhile, are strength-
ened. Al though pruning and strengthening occur throughout
our lives, during adolescence the balance shifts to elimination,
as the brain tailors itself to the demands of its environment.
Specialization arises as unused connections among neurons are
eliminated, decreasing the brain’s gray matter. Gray matter consists
largely of unmyelinated structures such as neuron cell bodies, den-
drites (antennalike projections from the cells that receive informa-
tion from other neurons) and certain axons. Overall, gray matter
increases during childhood, reaches a maximum around age 10
and declines through adolescence. It levels o during adulthood
and declines somewhat further in senescence. The pattern also
holds for the density of receptor cells on neurons that respond to
neurotransmitters—molecules such as dopamine, serotonin and
glutamate that modulate communication among brain cells.
Although the raw amount of gray matter tops out around
puberty, full development of dierent brain regions occurs at dif-
ferent times. Gray matter, it turns out, peaks earliest in what are
called primary sensorimotor areas devoted to sensing and re -
sponding to sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. It peaks latest
in the prefrontal cortex, crucial to executive functioning, a term
that encompasses a broad array of abilities, including or -
ganization, decision making and planning, along with the regu-
lation of emotion.
Greater Networking Brings Maturity
The most signicant change taking place in an adolescent brain is
not the growth of brain regions but the increase in communica-
tions among groups of neurons. When an analytical technique
called graph theory is applied to data from MRI scans, it shows
that from ages 12 to 30, connections between certain brain regions
or neuron groups become stronger ( black lines that get thicker ). The
analysis also shows that certain regions and groups become more
widely connected ( green circles that get larger ). These changes ulti-
mately help the brain to specialize in everything from complex
thinking to being socially adept.
Increasing Communications among Brain Regions over Time
Age 12 Age 30
Stronger connectionMore connections
© 2015 Scientific American © 2015 Scientific American
36 Scientific American, June 2015 Illustration by David Killpack (brain) and Jen Christiansen (graphic)
An important feature of the prefrontal
cortex is the ability to create hypothetical
what-ifs by mental time travel—to consid-
er past, present and possible future out-
comes by running simulations in our
mind instead of subjecting ourselves to
potentially dangerous reality. As philoso-
pher Karl Popper phrased it, instead of
putting ourselves in harms way, “our the-
ories die in our stead.” As we mature cog-
nitively, our executive functioning also
makes us more likely to choose larger,
longer-term rewards over smaller, short-
er-term ones.
The prefrontal cortex is also a key
component of circuitry involved in social
cognition—our ability to navigate com-
plex social relationships, discern friend
from foe, find protection within groups
and carry out the prime directive of ado-
lescence: to attract a mate.
Adolescence is therefore marked by
changes in gray matter and in white mat-
ter that together transform the network-
ing among brain regions as the adult
brain takes shape. The prefrontal cortex
functions are not absent in teenagers;
they are just not as good as they are going
to get. Because they do not fully mature
until a persons 20s, teens may have trou-
ble controlling impulses or judging risks
and rewards.
   , the hor-
mone-fueled limbic system undergoes
dramatic changes at the time of puberty,
which traditionally begins between ages
10 and 12. The system regulates emotion
and feelings of reward. It also interacts with the prefrontal cor-
tex during adolescence to promote novelty seeking, risk taking
and a shift toward interacting with peers. These behaviors,
deeply rooted in biology and found in all social mammals,
encourage tweens and young teens to separate from the com-
fort and safety of their families to explore new environments
and seek outside relationships. These behaviors diminish the
likelihood of inbreeding, creating a healthier genetic popula-
tion, but they can also pose substantial dangers, especially
when mixed with modern temptations such as easy access to
drugs, firearms and high-speed motor vehicles, unchecked by
sound judgment.
What most determines teen behavior, then, is not so much
the late development of executive functioning or the early onset
of emotional behavior but a mismatch in the timing of the two
developments. If young teens are emotionally propelled by the
limbic system, yet prefrontal control is not as good as it is going
to get until, say, age 25, that leaves a decade of time during
which imbalances between emotional and contemplative think-
ing can reign. Furthermore, puberty starting at an earlier age, as
is the case worldwide, lengthens the gap of time between the
onset of increased risk taking and sensation seeking and the rise
of a strong, stabilizing prefrontal cortex.
The lengthening mismatch supports the growing notion that
the teen years are no longer synonymous with adolescence. Ad -
olescence, which society defines as the transition from child-
hood to adulthood, begins in biology with the onset of puberty
but ends in a social construct when a person achieves indepen-
dence and assumes adult roles. In the U.S., attainment of an
adult role—often characterized by such events as getting mar-
ried, having a child and owning a home—is occurring approxi-
mately five years later than in the 1970s.
The large influence of social factors in determining what
constitutes an adult has led some psychologists to suggest that
adolescence is less of a biological reality than a product of
changes in child rearing since the industrial revolution. Yet twin
studies, which examine the relative eects of genes and environ-
ment by following twins who have dierent experiences, refute
the view that social factors can substantially override the biolo-
gy. They show that the pace of biological maturation of white
Emotion vs. Control
Teenagers are more likely than children or adults to engage in risky behavior, in part
because of a mismatch between two major brain regions. Development of the hormone-
fueled limbic system ( purple ), which drives emotions, intensies as puberty begins (typi-
cally between ages 10 to 12), and the system matures over the next several years. But the
prefrontal cortex ( green ), which keeps a lid on impulsive actions, does not approach full
development until a decade later, leaving an imbalance during the interim years. Puberty
is starting earlier, too, boosting hormones when the prefrontal cortex is even less mature.
Degree of Maturation
Limbic region
Prefrontal region
0 30 252015105Age:
Limbic region
Prefrontal cortex
Development mismatch
© 2015 Scientific American
and gray matter can be influenced somewhat by the environ-
ment but that the fundamental timing is under biological con-
trol. Sociologists see this, too; risk taking, sensation seeking
and a move toward peers happen in all cultures, although the
degree can vary.
  , white matter and networking developments
detected by MRI underscore the observation that the most strik-
ing feature in teen brain development is the extensive changes
that occur. In general, this plasticity decreases throughout adult-
hood, and yet we humans still retain a level of plasticity far lon-
ger than any other species.
Protracted maturation and prolonged plasticity allow us to
keep our options open” in the course of our own development,
as well as the entire species’ evolution. We can thrive every-
where from the frigid North Pole to hot islands on the equator.
With technologies developed by our brain, we can even live in
vessels orbiting our planet. Back 10,000 years ago—a blink of
an eye in evolutionary terms—we spent much of our time se -
curing food and shelter. Today many of us spend most of our
waking hours dealing with words and symbols—which is par-
ticularly noteworthy, given that reading is only 5,000 years old.
Prolonged plasticity has served our species well but creates
vulnerabilities in addition to opportunities. Adolescence is the
peak time of emergence for several types of mental illnesses,
including anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, eating
disorders, psychosis and substance abuse. Surprisingly, 50 per-
cent of the mental illnesses people experience emerge by age 14,
and 75 percent start by age 24.
The relation between typical adolescent brain changes and
the onset of psychopathology is complicated, but one underly-
ing theme may be that “moving parts get broken.” The idea is
that the extensive changes in white matter, gray matter and net-
working increase the chance for problems to arise. For example,
almost all the abnormal brain findings in adult schizophrenia
resemble the typical changes of adolescent brain development
gone too far.
In many other ways, adolescence is the healthiest time of life.
The immune system, resistance to cancer, tolerance to heat and
cold, and other traits are at their greatest. Despite physical robust-
ness, however, serious illness and death are 200 to 300 percent
higher for teens than for children. Motor vehicle accidents, the
number-one cause, account for about half of teen deaths. Homi-
cide and suicide rank second and third.
Unwanted teen preg nancy,
sexually transmitted diseases and behavior leading to incar-
ceration are also high, imposing tough, lifelong consequences.
So what can doctors, parents, teachers and teens themselves
do about these pitfalls? For clinicians, the paucity of novel med-
ications in psychiatry and the propensity of the adolescent brain
to respond to environmental challenges suggest that nonmedi-
cation interventions may be most fruitful—especially early in
teen development, when white matter, gray matter and net-
working are changing fast. Treatment of obsessive-compulsive
disorder is one example; behavioral interventions that trigger
the obsessive impulse but gradually modify a person’s response
may be highly eective and could prevent a lifetime of disability.
Appreciating that the brain is changeable throughout the teen
years obliterates the notion that a youth is a “lost cause.” It oers
optimism that interventions can change a teenager’s life course.
More study will help, too. The infrastructure for adolescent
research is not well developed, funding for this work is meager
and few neuroscientists specialize in this age group. The good
news is that as researchers clarify the mechanisms and influenc-
es of adolescent brain developments, more resources and scien-
tists are being drawn into the field, eager to minimize risks for
teenagers and harness the incredible plasticity of the teen brain.
Understanding that the adolescent brain is unique and rap-
idly changing can help parents, society and teens themselves to
better manage the risks and grasp the opportunities of the teen-
age years. Knowing that prefrontal executive functions are still
under construction, for example, may help parents to not over-
react when their daughter suddenly dyes her hair orange and
instead take solace in the notion that there is hope for better
judgment in the future. Plasticity also suggests that construc-
tive dialogue between parents and teens about issues such as
freedoms and responsibilities can influence development.
Adolescents’ inherent capacity to adapt raises questions
about the impact of one of the biggest environmental changes
in history: the digital revolution. Computers, video games, cell
phones and apps have in the past 20 years profoundly aected
the way teens learn, play and interact. Voluminous information
is available, but the quality varies greatly. The skill of the future
will not be to remember facts but to critically evaluate a vast
expanse of data, to discern signal from noise, to synthesize con-
tent and to apply that synthesis to real-world problem solving.
Educators should challenge the adolescent brain with these
tasks, to train its plasticity on the demands of the digital age.
Greater society has some compelling opportunities as well.
For one thing, it could be more focused on harnessing the pas-
sion, creativity and skills of the unique adolescent development
period. Society should also realize that the teen years are a turn-
ing point for a life of peaceful citizenship, aggression or, in rare
cases, radicalization. Across all cultures, adolescents are the
most vulnerable to being recruited as soldiers and terrorists, as
well as the most likely to be influenced to become teachers and
engineers. Greater understanding of the teen brain could also
help judges and jurors reach decisions in criminal trials.
For teens themselves, the new insights of adolescent neuro-
science should encourage them to challenge their brain with the
kinds of skills that they want to excel at for the remainder of
their lives. They have a marvelous opportunity to craft their own
identity and to optimize their brain according to their choosing
for a data-rich future that will be dramatically dierent from the
present lives of their parents.
The Primal Teen: What the New Discoveries about the Teenage Brain Tell Us
about Our Kids. Barbara Strauch. Doubleday, 2003.
Development of Brain Structural Connectivity between Ages 12 and 30:
A 4-Tesla Diusion Imaging Study in 439 Adolescents and Adults. Emily L.
Dennis et al. in NeuroImage, Vol. 64, pages 671–684; January 1, 2013.
Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence. Laurence
Steinberg. Houghton Miin Harcourt, 2014.
The Myth of the Teen Brain. Robert Epstein; Scientic American Mind, April/May 2007.
For a review of the eectiveness of punishments for juvenile oenders, see Scienti
© 2015 Scientific American
... This is as true for adolescents as it is for adults. However, because of a second sensitive period of brain development during age 13 through mid-twenties (Giedd, 2015), professionals providing assessment services can expect that adolescents may need ongoing and multiple types of assessment services as they progress through this major development period. To date, few authors have addressed the differing needs between adolescents and adults regarding Vocational Evaluation and Career Assessment Professionals Journal 2022, Volume 17, Number 1 assessment of career development and vocational futures, particularly pertaining to how brain development may affect these. ...
... Located in the frontal lobe is the prefrontal cortex, home of the executive functions which are a set of goal-oriented, cognitive processes that assist an individual to execute goal-oriented behaviors (Dučić et al., 2018). Executive functions include but are not limited to working memory, behavior regulation, emotional control, initiation, planning, organization, flexibility, and time management (Giedd, 2015;Giedd, 2018;Fuster, 2015;Meltzer, 2007). These cognitive skills provide adolescents opportunities to interact and implement goal-oriented behaviors in response to new or complex circumstances within an environment (Ruiz-Castañeda et al., 2020), including environments that are new to adolescents, such as work (e.g., a picker and packer job in a pet food warehouse) or learning (e.g., plumbing training in a Career Technical Education program). ...
... However, to identify if these behaviors are typical of chronological brain development, if they are manifestations of disability, or if the adolescents have ready rationale for their behaviors, observations must occur either over time or more than once. Some professionals may be tempted to interpret such behaviors as being immature, defiant, or troublesome (Fuster, 2015;Galván, 2017;Giedd, 2015), but by educating themselves about adolescent brain development they may see behaviors through a different lens. Some adolescent behaviors actually may be helpful within the evaluation process, such as a propensity for risk-taking, which may foster exploration of careers and/or jobs adolescents ordinarily may not consider. ...
This paper outlines the benefits of ongoing and multiple forms of vocational assessment services for adolescents. The purpose is to discuss adolescent brain development and the roles executive functioning play in vocational assessments, especially vocational evaluation. The authors discuss the three levels of vocational assessment, recommend that vocational evaluators assess within work or learning environments, and provide recommendations and considerations for vocational evaluators as they observe manifestations of executive functioning. The authors make a case for vocational evaluators to understand the complex changes in the adolescent brain and to use current research that informs their practices and vocational evaluation recommendations to ensure that they are providing meaningful, career-focused assessment.
... The maturation of the brain is thought to proceed up till well after the 20th year of life Giedd, 2015;Dahl et al., 2018;Steinberg, 2019). The initial overgeneration of synapses and their elimination (synaptogenesis and synaptic pruning) are not uniform across the brain but they differ by regions. ...
... Thich implies that the brain maturation of males lags behind that of females in the period of early and middle adolescence (see also Gur and Gur, 2016). The notion that brain maturation of boys and girls follows another timescale receives support from other investigations (see Miller and Halpern, 2014;Giedd, 2015;Choleris et al., 2018;van der Graaff et al., 2018;van Tetering et al., 2018;Wierenga et al., 2018). Such a maturational gap is thought to make the brain development of boys and girls differentially vulnerable to upbringing and the influence of their environment -which is different for the majority of boys and girls from birth on (Miller and Halpern, 2014;Jolles, 2016, Jolles, 2020. ...
... The period of adolescence is thought to last from around 10 years of age to the mid-twenties (e.g., Steinberg, 2014Steinberg, , 2019; see also Crone and Dahl, 2012). While the beginning of adolescence is clearly marked by the onset of puberty, the end of adolescence is less clear (Giedd, 2015;Dahl et al., 2018). Late adolescence overlaps with adulthood in the phase of "emerging adulthood." ...
Full-text available
En los últimos años se ha visto un creciente interés por el conocimiento relacionado con el cerebro y las neurociencias. Esto ha llevado a que se genere una importante cantidad de investigaciones y que el contexto propicie el surgimiento de creencias erróneas. Estudios realizados en varios países convergen en el hallazgo de que el conocimiento sobre neurociencias en todos los campos de conocimiento es pobre y en algunos estudios en Europa y América del Sur, incluso se observó que un mayor interés en neurociencia predice (paradójicamente) una mayor creencia en neuromitos, combinada con una incapacidad para juzgar información como real o pseudocientífica. La brecha entre la neurociencia cognitiva y el aprendizaje sigue siendo muy amplia . Y una de las consecuencias de esta distancia es la propagación de mitos que en muchos casos cuentan con algún sustento científico pero que son resultado de una malinterpretación o descontextualización de los resultados de investigaciones. Especialmente en el ámbito de la educación, la necesidad de incorporar recursos que permitan renovar la visión del aprendizaje ha favorecido el desarrollo de estas creencias erróneas, que se convierten en dogma y generan confusión sobre los aquellos aspectos que tienen una base científica y aquellos que deben ser refutados.
... The maturation of the brain is thought to proceed up till well after the 20th year of life (Gogtay et al., 2004;Giedd, 2015;Dahl et al., 2018;Steinberg, 2019). The initial overgeneration of synapses and their elimination (synaptogenesis and synaptic pruning) are not uniform across the brain but they differ by regions. ...
... Thich implies that the brain maturation of males lags behind that of females in the period of early and middle adolescence (see also Gur and Gur, 2016). The notion that brain maturation of boys and girls follows another timescale receives support from other investigations (see Miller and Halpern, 2014;Giedd, 2015;Choleris et al., 2018;van der Graaff et al., 2018;van Tetering et al., 2018;Wierenga et al., 2018). Such a maturational gap is thought to make the brain development of boys and girls differentially vulnerable to upbringing and the influence of their environment -which is different for the majority of boys and girls from birth on (Miller and Halpern, 2014;Jolles, 2016, Jolles, 2020. ...
... The period of adolescence is thought to last from around 10 years of age to the mid-twenties (e.g., Steinberg, 2014Steinberg, , 2019; see also Crone and Dahl, 2012). While the beginning of adolescence is clearly marked by the onset of puberty, the end of adolescence is less clear (Giedd, 2015;Dahl et al., 2018). Late adolescence overlaps with adulthood in the phase of "emerging adulthood." ...
Full-text available
New findings from the neurosciences receive much interest for use in the applied field of education. For the past 15 years, neuroeducation and the application of neuroscience knowledge were seen to have promise, but there is presently some lack of progress. The present paper states that this is due to several factors. Neuromyths are still prevalent, and there is a confusion of tongues between the many neurodisciplines and the domains of behavioral and educational sciences. Second, a focus upon cognitive neuroimaging research has yielded findings that are scientifically relevant, but cannot be used for direct application in the classroom. A third factor pertains to the emphasis which has been on didactics and teaching, whereas the promise of neuroeducation for the teacher may lie more on pedagogical inspiration and support. This article states that the most important knowledge and insights have to do with the notion of brain plasticity; the vision that development is driven by an interaction between a person’s biology and the social system. This helps individuals to select and process information, and to adapt to the personal environment. The paper describes how brain maturation and neuropsychological development extend through the important period of adolescence and emergent adulthood. Over this long period, there is a major development of the Executive Functions (EFs) that are essential for both cognitive learning, social behavior and emotional processing and, eventually, personal growth. The paper describes the basic neuroscience knowledge and insights – or “neuroscientific literacy” – that the educational professional should have to understand and appreciate the above-described themes. The authors formulate a proposal for four themes of neuroscience content “that every teacher should know.” These four themes are based on the Neuroscience Core Concepts formulated by the Society for Neuroscience. The authors emphasize that integrating neuroscientific knowledge and insights in the field of education should not be a one-way street; attempts directed at improving neuroscientific literacy are a transdisciplinary undertaking. Teacher trainers, experts from the neuroscience fields but also behavioral scientists from applied fields (notable applied neuropsychologists) should all contribute to for the educational innovations needed.
... It is well established that the brain undergoes a "rewiring" process that is not complete until approximately 25 years of age" [21] (p. 451), [22]. Therefore, the image of the chrysalis in Winnicott's words represents the theoretical background underlying the ongoing attention to the psychic process in the development of the subject; this theoretical framework helps to take into account the specific dynamism of the adolescent/young adult and to understand the psychopathological dimensions. ...
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In line with priorities set by the Italian Ministry of Health and international literature, the “Crisalide project” provides specific care pathways aimed at young adults (YA) with severe mental disorders (SMD). As described in Materials and Methods, it consists of three lines of activity: transition to adult mental health services (TSMREE/CSM 17–19); Diagnostic, Therapeutic, and Assistance Pathways for Young Adults (PDTA-YA); high-intensity treatment center for young adults “Argolab2 Potential Space”. The aim of the study is to assess the results relating to the first three years of implementation of this clinical-organizational model (2018/2020) according to the process indicators identified by the ministry. Among the population aged 18–30 under treatment, results show increased prevalence (30%) and incidence (26%); 0% treatment conclusions due to the expiration of the conventional time limit; 0% involuntary hospitalizations (TSO); 0% STPIT hospitalizations; 0% repeated hospitalizations; 0% hospitalizations in the common mental disorders diagnostic group. Among the population of Argolab2 Potential Space, 45.4% have resumed studies; 40.9% have had a first work experience; 22.7% have obtained educational or training qualifications, and 18.2% live in independent houses. At a time when the academic literature underlines the terrible impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on this population, the present study confirms that specific treatment processes for young populations are a protective factor.
... The developing youth brain is gaining increased appreciation for its unique structure and function (Giedd, 2015;Mascarell Maricic et al., 2020). Across cultures and societies, it is during this precise developmental period that substance use is most often initiated (Vega et al., 2002), with peak age of first use, start of hazardous use, and related consequences occurring subsequently (Wagner, 2002). ...
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Emerging adulthood (EA; ages 18-25) is characterized by socioemotional and neurodevelopmental challenges. Cannabis is a widely used substance among EAs, and hazardous use may increase risk for sustained use patterns and related health consequences. Research shows differential increases in hazardous use by objective as well as subjective measures of social inequality, with more concerning trajectories for youth with greater experiences of social inequality. Learning how to flexibly monitor and modify emotions in proactive ways (i.e., emotion regulation) is a central developmental task navigated during the EA window. Challenges to and with emotion regulation processes can contribute to the emergence of mental health symptoms during EA, including hazardous cannabis use. In this perspective, we highlight emotion dysregulation and social inequality as two critical factors that interact to either buffer against or exacerbate cannabis use during the EA period, noting critical gaps in the literature that merit additional research. We recommend novel methods and longitudinal designs to help clarify how dynamic cognition-emotion interplay predicts trajectories of negative emotional experiences and cannabis use in EA.
... One reason for the lower effect sizes observed for treatment outcomes in this age group is likely due to differences in the developing brain (Silvers et al., 2019). To that end, the adolescent brain is gaining increased recognition for its unique structure and function throughout this developmental stretch (Giedd, 2015). And, data indicate different patterns of neural response between adults and adolescents within some types of behavioral addictions treatment, including MI (Feldstein Ewing et al., 2011, 2013. ...
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Objective One route to improve adolescent addiction treatment outcomes is to use translational approaches to help identify developmental neuroscience mechanisms that undergird active treatment ingredients and advance adolescent behavior change. Methods This sample included 163 adolescents (ages 15-19) randomized to motivational interviewing (MI) vs. brief adolescent mindfulness (BAM). Youth completed an fMRI paradigm assessing adolescent brain response to therapist language (complex reflection vs. mindful; complex reflection vs. confront; mindful vs. confront) at pre- (prior to the completion of the full intervention) and post-treatment (at 3-month follow-up) and behavioral measures at 3, 6 and 12 months. Results Youth in both treatment groups showed significant problem drinking reductions at 3 and 6 months, but MI youth demonstrated significantly better treatment outcomes than BAM youth at 12 months. We observed several significant treatment group differences (MI>BAM) in neural response to therapist language, including at pre-treatment when examining complex reflection vs. mindful and complex reflection vs. confront (e.g., superior temporal gyrus, lingual gyrus); and at post-treatment when examining mindful vs. confront (e.g., SMA; middle frontal gyrus). When collapsed across treatment groups (MI + BAM), we also observed significant differences by time, with youth showing a pattern of brain change in response to complex reflection vs. mindful and complex reflection vs. confront (e.g., precuneus; postcentral gyrus). There was no evidence of a significant group x time interaction. However, brain change in response to therapist language (complex reflection vs. confront) in regions such as middle frontal gyrus was associated with reductions in problem drinking at 12 months, but few treatment group differences were observed. Conclusions These data underscore the need to better understand therapist language and their impact on the developing brain, in order to aggregate the most impactful elements of addiction treatment to inform future treatment development for adolescents.
... Therefore, there are many duties and responsibilities that the individual has to undertake in adolescence, which is the process of preparation for adulthood. These developmental tasks and responsibilities can bring along very important opportunities for adolescents in terms of risk taking, resilience and creating opportunities (Giedd, 2015). In this period, which Erickson (1969) defines as the process of gaining identity, the effort of the adolescent to create a unique identity is considered as the most important developmental task. ...
The aim of this study is in the relationship between peer support and autonomy in adolescents; The aim of this study is to examine the mediating role of social self-efficacy perception, self-esteem and social anxiety variables in adolescents. The study group of the research consists of 462 high school students (237 women and 225 men). Of the students in the study group, 26% (120 people) were in the 9th grade, 28.6% (132 people) were in the 10th grade, 28.1% (130 people) were in the 11th grade and 16.5% ( 76 people) are studying in the 12th grade. Data collection tools used in the study; Adolescent Social Anxiety Scale, Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (Short Form), Social Self-Efficacy Perception Scale, Peer Support Scale, Adolescent Autonomy Scale were used. The data were analyzed with Regression-based method and Bootstrap methods. According to the findings obtained from the study, it was observed that as peer support increases in adolescents, individuals' self-esteem and social self-efficacy perceptions increase, and as a result, their autonomy levels increase. In addition, it is seen that the increase in peer support in adolescents decreases the social anxiety of the individuals and thus the level of autonomy increases. In addition, it was found that the established model explained 41% of autonomy in adolescents.
From a neurobiological perspective, maladaptive aggression and the sequelae of trauma and victimization involve complex interactions among biological, psychological, relational, social, and other environmental factors, which begin at conception and continue throughout the lifespan. The aim of this chapter is to provide readers a theoretical framework for understanding the neurobiology of violence and victimization broadly, and as it relates to school violence and its prevention. Particular emphasis will be placed on understanding the relationship between violence and victimization, applying research findings to clinical settings, and exploring ways in which our understanding of developmental neurobiology can be leveraged to promote prevention and harm reduction strategies in educational settings.
Objective: Pedestrian-related death rates are increasing in the United States, partly due to increased use of distracting smartphones by pedestrians. Previous research documents high frequency of smartphone use while crossing streets near college campuses and in downtown business districts, but little is known about distracted pedestrian behavior in other urban environments. The current study used observational methods to examine and compare distracted pedestrian behavior in four urban areas - near an urban college campus, in a downtown commercial business district, near middle and high schools, and in entertainment districts - as well as examining whether the occurrence of distraction was associated with unsafe crossing behaviors. Methods: We observed 112 intersections in 46 downtown, 30 school, 25 entertainment district, and 11 college campus-area intersections. Coders recorded distraction, crossing safety, pedestrian demographics, and traffic volume. Chi-square tests compared pedestrian characteristics by intersection type. Log binomial regressions estimated risk ratios (RRs) and associated 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for associations between pedestrians walking alone and traffic volume with distracted crossing behavior, adjusting for age and gender. Similar models examined risk of unsafe crossing behavior by distraction behavior. All models were stratified by intersection type. Results: Distraction incidence was highest in campus locations (52.9%) and lowest in entertainment districts (16.2%). Walking alone was associated with a 45% higher risk of distraction (RR 1.45, 95% CI 1.30-1.62), although the increased association was limited to entertainment locations (RR 1.61, 95% CI 1.25-2.08) and was significantly decreased in all other locations. Higher traffic volume was associated with lower risk of distraction in downtown locations (RR 0.69, 95% CI 0.56-0.85) but higher distraction risk in entertainment locations (RR 1.71, 95% CI 1.27-2.31). Associations between distraction and unsafe crossing behaviors were minimal. Conclusion: Distracted pedestrian behavior occurs at different rates and in different circumstances, depending on the setting. These results offer valuable data to inform intervention programs that target appropriate populations in appropriate locations.
Cannabis use peaks during adolescence and emerging adulthood, and cannabis use disorder (CUD) is associated with a wide range of adverse outcomes. This is particularly pertinent in youth, because the developing brain may be more vulnerable to adverse effects of frequent cannabis use. Combining evidence-based psychosocial interventions with safe and effective pharmacotherapy is a potential avenue to improve youth outcomes, but we lack approved CUD pharmacotherapies. Here, we review new potential avenues for helping youth with CUD, with a particular focus on cannabinoid-based treatments. Evidence from placebo-controlled RCTs suggests synthetic delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) decreases withdrawal symptoms, but not cannabis use, in adults with daily cannabis use/CUD, while findings regarding formulations containing THC combined with cannabidiol (CBD) are mixed. Preliminary evidence from two placebo-controlled RCTs in adults with CUD suggests that both Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase inhibitors and CBD can reduce cannabis use. However, larger trials are needed to strengthen the evidence. Findings from adults point to cannabinoid-based treatments as a potential strategy that should be examined in youth with CUD.
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