The Teenage Brain: Uniquely powerful, vulnerable, not fully developed

The image is from the CBC The Current link highlighted at the blog post you are now reading.

One of the many benefits of working at organizing a 1960s high school reunion is that you get to re-visit topics that you may have forgotten about.

You also pick up new information that wasn’t even know at the time.

Consider a Jan. 13, 2015 headline from CBC the Current:

“The Teenage Brain: Uniquely powerful, vulnerable, not fully developed.”

An excerpt from the article highlighting the CBC podcast available at the above-noted link notes:

“The classic 1993 movie Dazed and Confused depicts teenage life as, well… dazed and confused. The Texas teens in the story spend most of their time inebriated, disrespectful, or just plain stupid. Sometimes they even manage all three.

“Now – thankfully – not every teen follows precisely in the frazzled footsteps of those dazed and confused kids, but practically every teenager has, at some point, left their parents confounded at their behaviour… asking, why oh why do teenagers act the way that teenagers do? It’s almost as if they’re another species.”

The CBC podcast warrants a close listen.

The Teenage Brain (2015)

The podcast refers to The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults (2015).

According to a blurb at the Toronto Public Library website:

“They can’t help it – teens are in many ways unable to control impulses, make wise decisions, and understand what they do, explains Jensen (neurology; chair, neurology dept., Univ. of Pennsylvania). It’s not willful; it’s brain chemistry. By understanding relevant brain science, however, parents can find plans of action to help their kids through all the nuances of life in this fraught period.”

Brainstorm (2013)

Also of interest, and value: Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain (2013). A blurb at the Toronto Public Library site notes:

“Between the ages of 12 and 24, the brain changes in important, and oftentimes maddening, ways. It’s no wonder that many parents approach their child’s adolescence with fear and trepidation. According to renowned neuropsychiatrist Daniel Siegel, however, if parents and teens can work together to form a deeper understanding of the brain science behind all the tumult, they will be able to turn conflict into connection and form a deeper understanding of one another.”

Neuroplasticity and how we learn

In previous posts, I’ve spoken of Ellen Langer’s concept of mindful learning (based on her particular definition of mindfulness) and have also spoken of research about how we learn, the concept of the organized mind, and how to maintain “memory fitness.”

Also of interest is the concept of “growth mindsets”:

Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning (2014) speaks of “growth mindsets”

An excerpt from the above-noted post sums up the story well:

“So for teachers, the lesson is that if you can talk to students and suggest that a growth mindset really is the more accurate model – and it is – then students tend to be more open to trying new strategies, and sticking with the course, and working in ways that are going to promote learning. Ability, intelligence, and learning have to do with how you approach it – working smarter, we like to say.”

Complain; it’s good for you

A Feb. 8, 2015 Atlantic article is entitled: “Complaining, for Your Health: The mental and physical benefits of airing your grievances.”

An opening sentence read:

“A recent study, published by Kowalski and her colleagues in the Journal of Social Psychology, examined relationships between mindfulness (focusing one’s attention on the present moment), happiness, and expressions of annoyance.”

A pull quote in the article notes: “It’s all about making the best choice, knowing when to complain and to whom.”

The article adds: “Those who complained with the hope of achieving a certain result, the study found, tended to be happier than those who simply did so for its own sake.”

The research suggests, from what I can gather, that complaints that arise in a context that entails the presence of strategic thinking and mindfulness can be highly productive

As well, the article notes:

“According to Kowalski, there is a positive relationship between happiness and mindfulness, or the ability to focus on one’s thoughts and emotions in the present moment. She cites a 2006 study that found that approximately 40 percent of happiness may be determined by intentional activities, like consciously adopting an optimistic attitude and seeking out new adventures.”

Data-based approach to relationships

A topic of related interest – a data-based, evidence-driven approach to relationships, discussed in a Feb. 9, 2015 New York Times article is of related interest.

Memory and dementia

An additional update, concerned with the other end of the age range, involves a May 3, 2015 CBC article entitled: “Canada’s version of Hogewey dementia village recreates ‘normal’ life: Canadian facility creates similar false-reality experience based on Holland’s Hogewey.”

A conceptually related May 3, 2015 Guardian article is entitled: Why are older Danish women so happy? Danish women explain why ageing in a country that looks after its citizens is ‘like one long really fun holiday.’ ”


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