WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE TEEN BRAIN
- The teen brain is not a mini adult brain, even if its intelligence is a match for an adult’s.
- The teen brain matures from back to front, so the frontal lobe (which controls judgement, decision making and emotional regulation) is not fully developed until age 22 or 23.
SO WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
- Teens experience adult emotions without fully developed problem solving skills. This may explain why teens have higher rates of suicide attempts and completions.
- Teens need “higher” doses of risk to feel the same thrill adults do, so they may be more likely to drive fast and behave recklessly.
- Teens don’t have the life experience to know that things can improve, so their first breakup/loss can be literally catastrophic.
- In the heat of the moment, a teen’s decision making relies more on the limbic system (emotional part of the brain) than the “rational” prefrontal cortex. This may explain why teens do things sometimes when they obviously “know better.”