The Teen Brain

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Bridget Whitley Reaction Paper # 2 The Teen Brain: Hard at Work… No, really The article talks about the difference between the teenage brain and an adult’s brain. The prefrontal cortex, which controls the decision making, is not working at the full capacity as an adult. Therefore, teenagers are not fully able to make sound decisions as an adult would. Beatriz Luna uses a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to test teenagers and adults’ brains to view their activity. She distinguished two types of behavior control, exogenous, reflexive behavior and endogenous, voluntary behavior. She found that teenagers are just starting to use endogenous behavior and it is not fully matured yet. It takes more effort especially in a stressful situation to make a planned choice. It is like the brain is in overdrive. Whereas, an adult not only uses endogenous behavior, but also other regions of the brain to think through a situation and not make an impulsive decision. It is said that full maturation of executive functioning occurs in the late teens and early 20’s, but that working memory guides voluntary behavior until that happens. Susan Tapert tested 25 young and older teens also with the fMRI. It showed that younger teens use more neural activity to perform working memory test, and again if theses teens are stressed it is less likely that they will do well. The older teens were found to use fewer neurons and begin using other regions of the brain to solve tasks. Synaptic pruning is the elimination of unnecessary connections between neurons, and Jay Giedd shows the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex which controls the impulses and undergoes this process. This process makes way for more efficient transmission of nerve impulses. Both pruning and myelin (insulation) are important for improved brain function. Because of this the prefrontal cortex is able to
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