The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction

Teen Brain Under Construction

One of the ways that scientists have searched for the causes of mental illness is by studying the development of the brain from birth to adulthood. Powerful new technologies have enabled them to track the growth of the brain and to investigate the connections between brain function, development, and behavior. The research has turned up some surprises, among them the discovery of striking changes taking place during the teen years. These findings have altered long-held assump-tions about the timing of brain maturation. In key ways, the brain doesn’t look like that of an adult until the early 20s. …

A clue to the degree of change taking place in the teen brain came from studies in which scientists did brain scans of children as they grew from early childhood through age 20. The scans revealed unexpectedly late changes in the volume of gray matter, which forms the thin, folding outer layer or cortex of the brain. The cortex is where the pro-cesses of thought and memory are based. Over the course of childhood, the volume of gray matter in the cortex increases and then declines. A decline in volume is normal at this age and is in fact a necessary part of maturation. …

The full article can be found on the National Institute of Mental Health website: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/the-teen-brain …

 

 

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