Risk-taking, Teens, Pre-frontal Cortex.

Many people talk about the stupid things done by adolescents. Adults speak about the fact that teens take unsafe risks without thinking things through or that teens make decisions without considering the consequences of the decision.

Well, there are basically three reasons teens take risks:
Peer Pressure
Identity Development
Pre-frontal Cortex Development

I wish to concentrate this Roland’s Ramblings entry of the pre-frontal cortex. The main reason for my attention to this subject is that I truly believe that far too many people blame teenagers for their risky behaviors without fully realizing that the adolescent is not yet in a position to completely realize the consequences of their own actions. Far too often, I have heard parents and other adults say that the teen is old enough to know better. Well, that simply is not true. You see, the brain’s pre-frontal cortex in the adolescent is not yet fully developed. In fact, the pre-frontal cortex of the human brain is not fully developed until we reach our early to mid 20s.

It is the prefrontal cortex that considers the pros and the cons of taking risks. It is the prefrontal cortex of the brain that provides us with decision making skills, and to weigh the consequeces of those decisions.

I would like to suggest three articles for you to read in order to better understand why teenagers are not capable to make carefully analyzed decisions without much due regard to the risks involved. They are:
The Adolescent Brain and Decision Making Skills
Maturation of the Prefrontal Cortex
Are teenage brains really different from adult brains?

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About Roland Louis Hansen

I have been: an organization development consultant; a college-level instructor of political science, psychology, and sociology; a public administrator; a social worker; an elected official; a political operative; a community activist; a union official; a shoe salesman and manager, a factory worker; a fast food restaurant employee; and, a custodian.
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