Thursday, June 16, 2022

What Is The Last Part Of The Brain To Mature

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Why Teenage Brains Are So Hard To Understand

The teenage brain: Why some years are (a lot) crazier than others | Robert Sapolsky | Big Think

The following story is excerpted from TIMEs special edition, The Science of Childhood, which is available in stores, at the TIME Shop and at .

When Frances Jensens eldest son, Andrew, reached high school, he underwent a transformation. Francess calm, predictable child changed his hair color from brown to black and started wearing bolder clothing. It felt as if he turned into an angst-filled teenager overnight. Jensen, now the chair of the neurology department at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, wondered what happened and whether Andrews younger brother would undergo the same metamorphosis. So she decided to use her skills as a neuroscientist to explore what was happening under the hood. I realized I had an experiment going on in my own home, says Jensen, author of The Teenage Brain.

That was about 10 years ago, when society at large was only beginning to catch up to the idea that the teen brain was not a fully developed adult brain, just with less mileage. For generations, the overarching thinking was that the brain had reached its full growth by the time a child reached puberty. But thanks to the research of people like Jensen and many others, beginning in the 1990s, its become clear that the teenage brain is some- thing much more complexand special.

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At What Age Is Your Brain The Sharpest

  • Memory: 18 y/o.
  • Learn unfamiliar names: 22 y/o.
  • Facial recognition ability: 32 y/o.
  • Concentration abilities: 43 y/o.
  • Understand new information: 50 y/o.
  • Vocabulary skills: 67 y/o.

In this post we answered the question When does the brain stop developing or fully develop? We explained how brain development happens, we described the stages of neurodevelopment and how this can affect our behavior.

If you have any questions or comments please let us know!

The Stages Of Teen Brain Development And Beyond

The last two stages of brain development occur after gestation. In fact, some types of brain changes continue through adulthood.

Organization begins at six months of gestation and continues well after birth. In this stage, neurons fully develop. Thus, each neuron includes

  • A cell body
  • An axona nerve fiber that sends signals from the cell body to other neurons
  • Dendriteshundreds of short branches that receive signals from other neurons.

The communication between axons and dendrites are called synapses. And new synapses can continue to form throughout a persons life. Therefore, teen brain development includes the formation of new synapses.

Myelination begins at six months of gestation and continues into adulthood. Hence, in this stage, the glial cells produce myelin. Myelin is a fatty covering that helps neural connections occur more efficiently.

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Factors That Influence A Teens Brain

There are some environmental and genetic factors that can affect a teens brain development and overall health. In fact, certain factors can contribute to mental illness, such as addiction or a psychological disorder. These factors can include:

Drug Use: Certain drugs can have severe impact on the functioning of the brain. For instance, the rush of dopamine that cocaine releases can lead to permanent alterations in the way the brain processes dopamine in the future. According to research, this also means that because of these permanent changes in the way a teen responds to dopamine, they may be more vulnerable to cocaine addiction later in the life as well as addiction to other drugs that stimulate the release of dopamine.

Genetics: Researchers are beginning to see that shapes of certain parts of the brain are different among those who have certain mental illness, such as Bipolar Disorder for instance, versus those who dont. Another example is the way that the amygdala functions differently in those that have mental illness. Certain genes can be passed down that affect the functioning and health of the brain and a teen brain. Of course, that doesnt mean that a teen may develop mental illness, but it does mean that they may be vulnerable to it more so than others.

How The Brain Changes During Development

The Building of the Teenage Brain: UNDER CONSTRUCTION

From early stages of adolescence into adulthood, the brain experiences major growth and pruning. Initial developments begin near the back of the cortex, and tend to finish in the frontal areas . There are a couple key ways by which the brain changes during various stages of development including: myelination as well as synaptic pruning.

  • Myelination: The nerve fibers in your brain are covered with a substance called myelin. This helps provide insulation so that neurons can effectively transmit signals. During developmental stages, the process of myelination promotes healthy brain functioning and allows for more complex functions.
  • Synaptic pruning: This is a process by which brain synapses are selectively pruned or eliminated throughout brain development. The process of synaptic pruning tends to peak during teenage years, and wanes in later adolescence. It should be noted that the pruning occurs until the brain is fully developed . This allows for more efficient brain functioning.
  • Increased connectivity: The connections between brain regions appear to be strengthened, thus making communication more efficient. The brain is able to transmit greater amounts of information between regions and becomes better at planning, dealing with emotions, and problem solving.
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    Content: Brain Maturation Is Complete At About 24 Years Of Age

    The major reason that adolescents have different sensitivities to alcohol compared to adults is that their brains are still maturing. Although it was once thought that the brain is fully mature around birth this hypothesis has been disproven now there is clear evidence that the brain does not mature fully until about age 24. One of the areas of the brain that matures late is the prefrontal cortex the area important in impulse control risk-taking behavior and judgment.

    During development in the womb as many as 250,000 new neurons are created each day. These neurons use spatial and chemical cues to find their synaptic targets. By the time we are born our brains contain billions of neurons with trillions of connections. However the infant brain contains far more neurons than are present in the adult brain.

    During the subsequent months and through adolescence careful pruning of neuronal connections eliminates all but the most useful connections between neurons. The result is a thinning-out process that selects for those neuronal connections strengthened through repeated experience. In this sense cells that fire together wire together while those that do not make meaningful contacts do not survive. In other words use it or lose it! These early pruning processes not only establish the neuronal networks to support learning throughout life but also allow the brain to be sculpted based on a persons unique experiences.

    What Parents Can Do

    If youre trying to make sense of it all and doing your best to support your teens growth, here are a few suggestions to consider:

    Discuss pros and cons with your teen. When your teen comes to you with a problem, help your teen identify the consequences or results of their actions. If there is a choice your teen must make, help them see the pros and cons of each choice. Because the prefrontal cortex is still developing, teens tend to be more impulsive. However, by helping them think through a situation, you help them make neural connections that build logical and rational thinking, which they will need as healthy and responsible adults.

    Show interest in your teen. With all the growth teens go through, they may feel an inability to relate to their parents or other members of the family. You can support your teen by showing interest in what they like, such as their music, games, hobbies, and other interests. This also helps build neural connections in their brain that what they are interested in matters to you.

    Encourage your teen to try new things. There is a lot of growth happening in the teen brain. The teen wants to try new things, explore the world, and role-play. A parent with a deeper understanding of a teens brain growth might encourage this for more neural connection and healthy growth.

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    Judgment Call: Maturity Emotions And The Teenage Brain

    Adolescence can be a rocky time for teens and parents alike. This stage in life is naturally a turbulent one that is often blamed on an influx of hormones. However, adults and teens might be surprised to find out that hormones are only part of the story. Teen brain development is really controlling the intense changes that teens experience.

    What Happens to a Teens Brain

    When children are born, their brains overproduce gray matter until they are about a year-and-a-half old. This intense stage of development allows babies to adjust to their world and make connections to allow them healthy growth and function.

    It wasnt until 1999 that the National Institute on Mental Health discovered that the brain once again overproduces gray matter during adolescence, providing extra synapses to accompany increased hormone production. In addition, the brain of an adolescent matures from the back to the front.

    In the back of the brain, involuntary actions such as breathing, heart rate, and blinking are controlled. Moving from the back to the front, the brain controls and interprets hormone levels, emotion, sensory information, movement, memory, and learning. The front of the brain is where the brain processes risk, practicing judgment and self-control, and it is the last part of the brain to mature.

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    Why would the brain create more synapses than it needs, only to discard the extras? The answer lies in the interplay of genetic and environmental factors in brain development.

    The early stages of development are strongly affected by genetic factors for example, genes direct newly formed neurons to their correct locations in the brain and play a role in how they interact.12,13 However, although they arrange the basic wiring of the brain, genes do not design the brain completely.14,15

    Instead, genes allow the brain to fine-tune itself according to the input it receives from the environment. A childs senses report to the brain about her environment and experiences, and this input stimulates neural activity. Speech sounds, for example, stimulate activity in language-related brain regions. If the amount of input increases synapses between neurons in that area will be activated more often.

    Repeated use strengthens a synapse. Synapses that are rarely used remain weak and are more likely to be eliminated in the pruning process. Synapse strength contributes to the connectivity and efficiency of the networks that support learning, memory, and other cognitive abilities.16,17 Therefore, a childs experiences not only determine what information enters her brain, but also influence how her brain processes information.

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    When Talking To Teens Be Careful To Check What Emotion They Are Seeing In You

    Often teens can misinterpret emotions and they see anger when in reality you are feeling anxious. This can often lead to many moments of miscommunication. So, when you are talking to teenagers be careful to check what emotion they are seeing in you, and make sure you always acknowledge their emotions first and then help them to be able to think about what they are feeling.

    The Brain Continues To Develop Beyond Adolescence

    Posted August 17, 2011

      When we think about brain development and plasticity, most of us think about the birth and death of neurons or changes in the number or strength of synapses. Yet, no part of the brain works in isolation. Brain maturation and plasticity also depends upon the large nerve fiber tracts that connect different brain regions together. These include the corpus callosum that link the two cerebral hemispheres, tracts that connect the cerebral cortex and lower brain areas and spinal cord, and “association” tracts that connect different parts of the cerebral cortex together. Strikingly, all long association fiber pathways have a terminus in the frontal lobes of the cerebral cortex, a brain region involved with emotional regulation, social behavior, attention, and planning. No other part of the brain is so richly connected.

      When do the large fiber tracts mature in the human brain? The axons of long fiber tracts are surrounded by myelin, a fatty material that speeds up the conduction of nerve impulses. Since the presence of myelin gives the axons a whitish appearance in preserved specimens of the brain, these large fiber tracts are also called “white matter.” Sensitive brain imaging methods, such as diffusion tensor imaging, can measure changes in myelination throughout the lifespan.

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      Where Is The Frontal Lobe Located

      Neuroscientists have traditionally divided the brain’s cerebrum into four lobes: the frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal. The cerebrum is the newest part of the brain to have evolved, and houses most higher functions, such as conscious thought, morality, memory, and the ability to learn through memorization, deduction, and other complex processes. The frontal lobe plays a key role in this complex set of cognitive functions.

      Named for its location, the frontal lobe is situated toward the front of the cerebrum, just behind the forehead and under the frontal skull bones. It sits atop the temporal lobe, in front of the parietal lobe, and apart from the occipital lobe, with portions of the limbic systemsometimes called the limbic lobe crossing all four brain lobes, including the frontal lobe.

      The central sulcus separates the frontal and parietal lobes, with the lateral sulcus separating the frontal and temporal lobes.

      Develop Good Habits Around Activities Like Thinking Positively Eating And Exercise During The Teen Years

      The Teenage Brain  The

      Another principle is that when connections ‘fire together they wire together’, so this is a vital time to develop good habits around activities like thinking positively, eating and exercise as that wires together for adulthood. We know that the brain can change throughout life but it is much easier to get the ‘wiring right at the start, in teenage times’. It takes a lot of hard work to rewire as adults.

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      Adolescent Maturity And Policy In The Real World: Scientific Complexity Meets Policy Reality

      The most prominent use of neuroscience research in adolescent social policy was the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court Case, Roper vs. Simmons, which has been described as the âBrown v. Board of Education of âneurolaw,ââ recalling the case that ended racial segregation in American schools . In that case, 17-year-old Christopher Simmons was convicted of murdering a woman during a robbery. Ultimately, he was sentenced to death for his crime. Simmonsâ defense team argued that he did not have a specific, diagnosable brain condition, but rather that his still-developing adolescent brain made him less culpable for his crime and therefore not subject to the death penalty. Amicus briefs were filed by, among others, by the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association summarizing the existing neuroscience evidence and suggesting that adolescentsâ still-developing brains made them fundamentally different from adults in terms of culpability.

      The AMA brief argued that: âdolescentsâ behavioral immaturity mirrors the anatomical immaturity of their brains. To a degree never before understood, scientists can now demonstrate that adolescents are immature not only to the observerâs naked eye, but in the very fibers of their brainsââ . . The neuroscientific evidence is thought to have carried significant weight in the Courtâs decision to overturn the death penalty for juveniles .

      Healthy Neural Networks In Teens

      Another essential part of a developing brain is the network of neurons. This large network in the brain allows cells to communicate with one another, carrying signals back and forth between the brain and the rest of the body. Research points to the fact that a healthy mind means the ability for that network of neurons to change.

      As a teen grows and learns, neurons form connections that can last a lifetime. However, a healthy brain is one that can be plastic, adaptable, and continue to change with its environment. The adolescent brain is undergoing incredible growth. Neurons are wiring and new connections between the two hemispheres of the brain are forming. This kind of growth and connection is an explosive time during adolescence. If the brain can continue to be plastic, that is if new neural connections can continue to form and if old ones can be released, this is can support healthy brain function and even a teens mental health. These neural connections and adaptability are important in an adolescents learning, behavior, and mood regulation. If a teens brain forms connections that support their mental health, these neural connections will then carry into adulthood support their psychological well being throughout the lifespan.

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      How Does The Frontal Lobe Interact With Other Areas Of The Body

      Though the frontal lobe is often deemed the seat of consciousness, it cannot think or feel alone. No single brain region can fully control any other region or function without heavy input from the body, other parts of the brain, and the outside world. The frontal lobe is no exception, and works alongside all other brain lobes to coordinate consciousness.

      The frontal lobe, like all brain regions, connects with the limbic lobe, which houses brain structures associated with the limbic system. The limbic system controls automatic and primitive reactions, but these reactions are heavily dependent upon emotion and experience. Because the frontal lobe is home to much consciousness, its input into the limbic lobe is vital. For instance, an emotional reaction to a traumatic experience can affect limbic functioning forever, and the memories housed in the frontal lobe may strengthen limbic system reactions over time.

      Because the frontal lobe is home to many higher functions, it is especially dependent upon experiences and memories. That means that social interactions, education, and similar experiences heavily affect the functioning of this important brain region. Sensory input also plays a key role, since the frontal lobe relies on memory, previous experience, and information about the surrounding world to judge the potential effects of future actions.

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