Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Understanding the Brain

...of teenagers.

There are truly moments when I think that I am living with crazy people.

Well, surprise, surprise - I am.

I heard a report on recent research on a radio program something that I should have already known:

The frontal cortex of the brain is not completely developed until a person is in her mid-twenties.

Ahhh, what an affirmation!

It seems that some very smart scientists have determined through their form of research that teenagers have not fully developed the part of the brain which:

Manages executive functioning and cognitive processing. Keeping organized in thought and in stuff is just plain difficult for them. This explains the number of posts about messy rooms.

Interprets emotions in facial expression! Ah, ha! They can’t tell when I am really disappointed? I DO need to actually say these things out loud.

Manages impulse control! Scientists need a NIMH study to figure this out? And we put these kids behind the wheels of cars?

Now, you may know a couple of theories of mine that has not yet been tested by a scientific study – perhaps I should apply for a grant for research that is also called my everyday life. The following could be considered to be corollaries:

Any teenager is smarter when he is in the household kitchen. All 5 of my current teenagers understand me completely when I am talking to them in the kitchen. Black and White is clear and non-negotiable. Their mother actually makes some sense to them. But as they move further and further out of the kitchen, down the street, off at school, or at a gathering of friends, you know as well as I do, their decision making skills are not quite as sharp.

A single teenager is smarter than a group of them. Yes. There actually seems to be more functioning grey matter in one teenager than there is in a whole group of them getting together. They seem less able to use what they do have in the frontal cortex; reasoning and decision making is more impulsive, less rational. Yup. Can anyone else corroborate these findings?

Being a little crazy helps kids to negotiate the unreal time of life they are experiencing. Don't you think so? Would you want to be 15 years old again?

Teenagers craziness is contagious to mid-lifers in their presence. Have you wondered why certain things came out of your mouth? Why you are acting the way you are? Have you felt a need to see an exorcist to get your own mother out of the words that are coming out of your mouth? I don't think it is completely our fault when we act a little "crazy". It's part of the tense, tizzy time with teens.

It makes perfect sense that they seem a little whack-nuts – they are. There brain is not finished growing.

So I am not the insane one…. At least on a good day.



  1. That does make perfect sense! and no, i would not want to be 15 again, not for all the tea in china. go through puberty twice? You really would have to be nuts to think that was a good idea!

  2. Haha, I'm the same as Heather I would not want to be a teenager ever again. It is sooo hard!! ;0)

  3. a glorious post...just the tonic l need......this place wondrous blogland is manna form heaven....

    ok off to pack another box...

    saz x

  4. It might be 20 for girls but I'm not convinced the men ever quite get there!!

  5. Wonderful Sink - what a great post.

  6. Teens are just a little bit crazy for a reason then! Ah! So it wasn't me all along - phew!

  7. Ah, Sink... Wonderful! That issue of teens crossing the road on the way to school in a herd, like bison... I've noticed they don't even look to see what traffic is coming, the 'herd instinct' of Teens has taken over! The mother in me screamed in anguish...

    Superb, splendiferous post! Bravo, Bravo xxx

  8. It's when they look at you as if you're nuts when you know you're right and you should be making perfect sense. That's when I start coming apart at the seams....

  9. Yes, we are always right, because we've been there, done that, got the Tshirt and the stains!!!

    How are they wired not to understand that? GAH!

    These episodes bring on the pre-senile dementia that will curb their behaviours in us, when they are in their forties, I swear! :) x

  10. Pre senile dementia in us, that will curb their behaviours...! Why can't I type? I swear it's the Teenagers' faults!

  11. My son is just 12 so very much on the cusp of all this. He told me the other day that he just feels angry and that whatever I do it annoys him. Charming. Such a brief hop from the time when he thought I knew the answers to everything. I have started to think of it as like when he was 2 and suddenly turned from cute and compliant to spikey and screamy. The advantage is,i'm thinking, that at least now I can tell him to go out and play with his mates sometimes rather than having to be around his grumps all the time.

  12. LOL at this posts cause it so true.

    I personally would go back to the teen years, BUT ONLY with the knowledge and self confidence I have now. But I guess that would defeat the purpose and I would probably be lonely or looking for friends 10 years older than me.

    I find that a full night's sleep make sit easier to deal with my kids though. Other than that, I just randomly lose the plot.

    good post.