Frontline: Inside the Teenage Brain • http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/teenbrain/
The Brain • Weighs about 3 pounds • “The most complicated mass of matter in the known universe.” • Contains over 10 billion neurons and another 100 billion support cells. • Eventually forms over 100 trillion connections. • Brain controls ALL activity • Constantly changing and adapting • Neurons are capable of re-routing circuits
Terminology • Neurons: • Specialized cells that transmit information to other nerve cells or muscles. • Axon: • An electricity conducting fiber that carries information away from the cell body. • Dendrite: • Receives messages from other neurons • Synapse: • Contact point where one neuron “communicates” with another neuron. Source: Sullivan, 2006
Brain Development • 2 stages: • Growth spurts or overproduction of neurons • Pruning • Growth spurts are seen at younger ages • Pruning happens during adolescence • “Use it or lose it”
Frontal Lobe Parietal Lobe Temporal Lobe Occipital Lobe Cerebellum Corpus Callosum Brain Stem BRAIN STRUCTURES Source: University of Utah, 2006
Frontal Lobe • Responsible for: • Personality, judgment, reasoning, problem solving, rational decision making, • Logic and understanding of consequences • Governs impulsivity, aggression, • Organizing thoughts, planning for the future • Undergoes significant changes during adolescence • Not fully developed until mid-20’s.
Prefrontal Cortex • Part of the frontal lobe: • Helps with impulse control, judgments, reasoning • One of the last areas of the brain to develop fully. • During this time, there is an increased need for: • Structure, mentoring, and guidance from adults
Temporal Lobes • Control hearing, understanding speech, sorting new information and short-term memory • Contains: • Amygdala and hippocampus • Matures around 18-19 years of age.
The Teenage Brain • Underdevelopment of frontal cortex leads to: • More “gut” reactions than reasoning • More likely to use amygadala (emotions) than prefrontal cortex (reasoning) for information processing. • It takes experience to train the brain.