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The mysterious workings of the adolescent brain

Why do teenagers seem so much more impulsive, so much less self-aware than grown-ups? Cognitive neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore compares the prefrontal cortex in adolescents to that of adults, to show us how typically teenage behavior is caused by the growing and developing brain. Remember being a teenager? Rocked internally with hormones, outwardly with social pressures, you sometimes wondered what was going on in your head. So does Sarah-Jayne Blakemore. And what she and others in her field are finding is: The adolescent brain really is different. New brain imaging research and clever experiments are revealing how the cortex develops -- the executive part of the brain that handles things like planning, self-awareness, analysis of consequences and behavioral choices. It turns out that these regions develop more slowly during adolescence, and in fascinating ways that relate to risk-taking, peer pressure and learning. Which leads to a bigger question: How can we better target education to speak to teenagers' growing, changing brains?

Sarah-Jayne Blakemore studies the social brain the network of brain regions involved in understanding other people and how it develops in adolescents.

This talk was presented at an official TED conference.


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