Introduction: Show Video of Teens Doing stupid things. Ask: Why do Teens do things like this? We hear all kinds of things in the media now a days about stupid things kids are doing. From the Steubenville Ohio football players that were convicted of raping a young girl at a party. Did you hear about the 16 year old boy who stuck his head out of the bus window while going under the George Washington Bridge? Or this boy that posted on face book about driving drunk and hitting someone’s car? He was Topic Sentence: Teen troubles – it is not just your hormones; it really is all in your head.
We shake our heads and wonder what is wrong with young people today, wonder why they do these seemingly random, senseless things, and blame it on hormones. In reality though, these things are not so random or hormonal, they are the result of an unsophisticated brain. Previously, parents always looked at their teenagers and some of the things, usually not the brightest things, and chalked it up to hormones. Now, however, there is proof that the immature acts of teenagers have a physiological cause behind them.
The nerve endings in their brains are not protected adequately yet to prevent them from acting on every little impulse without regard for the consequences. The nerve endings have a covering, called myelin, which develop over time and teenagers just have not had enough time to be protected from themselves. This developmental process is called myelination. Main Point According to definitions: Myelination is the term that is used for the process by which a fatty layer, called myelin, accumulates around the nerve cells.
Myelination allows the cells to transmit information faster and allows for more complex brain processes. This starts in infancy and continues into adulthood. During the teen years this is happening mostly in the frontal lobe the area responsible for better decision making, better control of impulses, planning, and reasoning skills. All the while a teen goes through major setbacks and pitfalls with all of these so called “executive functions” Myelination enables the nerve cells to transmit information faster and allow more complex brain processes.
Myelination contributes to our unique personalities and allows us to anticipate the consequences of our actions; when completed it Tells us it’s a bad idea to drink alcohol and drive or to ignore the consequences of taking heroin. Think of myelination as the insulation on electrical wires inside your house. They are covered to process the information much faster and send it to electrical sockets so you can have electricity. If you wanted to look at this way some of the wire is insulated and some is not it has not yet completed the process so the covering is not complete allowing information to travel a lot slower.
One of the quotes from the NPR article states: “It’s not that they don’t have a frontal lobe. And they can use it. But they are going to access it more slowly. ” Ex. Would this teen have done this had he seen the video of someone else do this? Would that teen have stuck his head out of the bus? Would I have done the things I have done as a teen? Would you? Point two What are executive functions of the brain? These are huge things like planning, reasoning, and decision making skills, organization of multiple tasks, impulse inhibition, self-control, setting goals and priorities, empathizing with others.
Other examples include making sound judgments, forming strategies, planning ahead, adjusting behavior when situations change, stopping activity upon completion and insight. These are all functions of the prefrontal cortex which is the last part of the brain to develop. Conflicts with authority figures, mood swings and other behavioral problems are normal Scientists are beginning to find out why. Teens lack all of these functions they are mostly functioning on the Amalga of the brain. This is the part of the brain that handles reaction which makes the teen irrational and overly emotional.
This is part of the reason teens experiment, do stupid stunts and use drugs and alcohol despite the consequences. Teenagers feel immortal they take drugs. Reasons for taking are varied but their rationalization is they simply do not believe that anything truly bad will ever happen to them. (Reason being they have not completed the process of neuronal myelination. They do not have these executive functions. 50% of high school seniors consume alcohol at least once a month. (Steubenville) 50% have smoked some marijuana Alcohol and drugs kills 6and half times more individuals under the age of 21 than any other drug. 7% regularly smoke cigarettes Point three Conflicts with authority figures, mood swings and other behavioral problems are normal for teenagers. Scientists are beginning to find out why. Scientists used to think that children’s brains were developed by the age of 10. They thought that teen’s brains were finished as far as serious or normal development. They thought the only thing happening in a teen was raging hormones and hair and pimples. Not so anymore. Many studies on the myelination process are proving that the brain is not fully developed until mid to late 20s, sometimes into early 30’s.
MRI studies have shown that the brain from childhood into adult years develops slowly with the frontal lobe (prefrontal Cortex and executive functioning) being the last to develop. People often say a girl of 20 is much more mature than her boyfriend at that age. True, maturation of the brain occurs in women between the ages of 20-25; however, this does not occur in males until the later 20’s, thus proving this theory. Conclusion- next time a teenager does something that makes you think what was he thinking or not thinking? You can remember this lesson on myelination and have some empathy for the fact that possibly he wasn’t thinking at all.
Myelination was in charge and he was not capable of thinking right. Is it empathy for teenagers’ crazy decisions justifications for their actions? Just a little better understanding for what makes them tic and not tic. Thank You Sites: Psychology Today Magazine National Geographic Magazine: Beautiful Brains Published October 2011 About. com Tween Parenting: Definition Npr. org The teen brain: It’s Just Not Grown up Yet http://www. health. harvard. edu/blog-extra/the-adolescent-brain-beyond-raging-hormones The Primal Teen by Barbara Strauch