Battle of the Brain
In adolescence, the same hormones that cause magnificent physiological changes during puberty, are also rewiring body parts we never see: the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. (Both in our heads.)
Baby Brain VS. Adult Brain
Move over Amygdala This is the baby brain, the seat of emotion and fear, which matures much sooner than other brain areas. This is why young children are often overcome with fits of giggling or crying over seemingly small things. Here comes Pre-frontal Cortex The pre-frontal cortex is what makes humans human. It’s the seat of judgment, logic, self-control and reason. It gives us meta-cognition(the ability to think about thinking), as well as analytic capacity and creativity. It also keeps the amygdala in check—but not until it’s fully developed, normally in one’s midtwenties. Wait it out Knowing what’s going on in a teen’s brain helps you understand how to help them—and how to avoid taking their impulsive behavior personally. Just as you wouldn’t fault a baby for not knowing that objects under a blanket cease to exist, you can’t fault a teen for doing keg stands at the behest of their friends. Their brain tells them it’s probably not a wise choice, but controlling those impulses takes time and practice.
Pre-frontal cortex under construction
Brain development doesn’t happen overnight. During adolescence, the amygdala and prefrontal cortex battle it out for control over behavior—until the prefrontal cortex eventually takes over. Signs of an underdeveloped pre-frontal cortex: • rational one day, irrational the next • poor insight about future consequences • engaging in risky behaviors (like binge drinking, unprotected sex and drug use)