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Adolescent Brain Development and Changes in Behavior and Thinking

Autor:   •  November 12, 2012  •  Research Paper  •  1,427 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,245 Views

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Adolescent Brain Development and Changes in Behavior and Thinking

Emma Goodspeed

Rivier University

Adolescent Brain Development and Changes in Behavior and Thinking

Many people in today's society are becoming fascinated with adolescent brain development. It is being discovered more and more every day that adolescent brains change functionally and structurally (Steinberg 2012, 67). It is becoming clearer to scientists why adolescents do the things they do. Due to localization of function different parts of our brains have different functions (Myers, 48). Parts of the brain develop differently and at different rates. Cognitive abilities are strongest in the teens and early adulthood. Cognitive abilities include memory, creativity, and intelligence. Social development, such as marriage, new careers, loss, and birth, is strongest in early to middle adulthood (Steinberg, 2012, 68).

There are four physical changes that occur during adolescent years. The first one is a decrease in gray matter in the frontal and parietal lobes of the brain. The frontal lobe is located behind the forehead and is the largest region of the brain. The parietal lobe is at the crown of the head, spreading to either side (Steinberg 2012, 67-68). This disconnects unused neurons at the meeting point, or the synapse (Myers, 52). Neurons are nerve cells. Our nervous system is built and run by neurons (Myers, 56). The removal of the neurons happens between pre-adolescence and early adolescence. This occurrence improves cognitive skills (Steinberg 2012, 68). Adolescents begin to think more clearly and in an organized manner, better remember facts, events, and life happenings, and make their own decisions while their cognitive skills are improving.

The second physical change during early adolescent years is modifications in the activity relating to the neurotransmitter, dopamine (Steinberg 2012, 68). Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that close gaps, or synapse, between neurons. Communication between neurons is made possible by the movement of chemicals, or neurotransmitters, released from the presynaptic nerve, crossing over the synapse. Neurotransmitters decide whether or not a neuron produces an impulse (Myers, 52). Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that impacts emotion and learning (Myers, 54). The density and dispersal of dopamine receptors is greatly altered. The receptors are projected from the limbic system. The limbic system is where emotions are sorted, and rewards and punishments are established (Steinberg 2012, 68). This just means that a child realizes that when doing something such as smoking marijuana, they are rewarded with a high. Or if an adolescent has sex, they


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