the ‘Teenage Brain’ Can Help Parents
May 30, 2014- Tom
HARRISBURG - Maybe your teen's brain doesn't work the same way yours does. But an
expert on childhood behavior says new research can help you better understand
Harris works with the U.S. Department of Education and Marshall University to
improve behavioral practices in schools. He says the risky experimentation
teens seem drawn to from puberty is at least partly the result of biological
changes in their brains.
the adolescent brain is pushing its owner to be ready to leave the nest. "It's
encouraging risk taking, novelty seeking, in an effort to get kids to leave
what are oftentimes safe, secure, situations to go out and experiment, and
venture into adulthood," Harris explains.
gives talks entitled A Teenager's Brain: A Scary Place to Go Alone.He is a
clinical social worker and recently spoke at the largest state conference of
social workers in the country.
the reaction often is to blame hormones and the teens' newly awakened sex
drive.But he says it's deeper than that. Young people may be getting ready to
start their own families, but he explains their brains are changing in other
the pre-frontal cortex - the part of the brain in charge of rational decision-making
and impulse control. In a teen, Harris says, it's still developing, partly
through experience and experimentation.
in most people, it hasn't fully developed until their 20s. "It's not that
they're not necessarily rational," he stresses. "It's just that
they're fine-tuning their rational process."