Development of the Brain - Methacton School District

Development of the Brain - Methacton School District

Development of the Brain Pre-adolescence and adolescence Adolescence Adolescence is defined as the transition from childhood to adulthood or the psychological, social and emotional changes that accompany puberty .

Brain Development Overview It now appears the brain continues to change into the early 20's with the frontal lobes, responsible for reasoning and problem solving, developing last.

Neural Growth Synaptic Growth Spurt Between ages 7 and 11, the brain undergoes a huge spurt of growth of connections just like they were doing around 18 months to two. Most of this growth is in

Temporal Lobes The temporal lobes handle auditory information. Deep down within the temporal lobes is a structure called the hippocampus, and it is responsible for memory. The part of the brain that works really efficiently and is growing a lot and developing rapidly between the ages of 7 and 11 is the part of the brain that handles memory and shows tremendous growth. Synaptic Pruning

The first change after this synaptic growth spurt is a selective pruning which takes place. In adolescence, most of this pruning is taking place in the frontal lobes. The adolescent loses approximately 3 percent of the gray matter in the frontal lobes. The Results of Synaptic Pruning Red indicates grey

matter which is mainly responsible for information processing (neuron bodies). Blue indicates myelination These changes may parallel a pruning process that that appears to follow the principle of "use-it-or-loseit:" neural connections, or synapses, that get exercised are retained, while those that don't are lost.

Synaptic Pruning Researcher Jay Giedd compares this pruning to Michelangelo with a block of marble. He begins to sculpt away until David emerges. This is precisely what is going on in the adolescent brain, starting around 11. The brain is pruning away, sculpting away

excess material, excess connections, to make a more refined, more efficient, more adult brain. Adolescent Brain Development: Myelination The second change is in myelination; in adolescence, it is not finished. The last part of the brain to myelinate is the frontal lobes. And myelination is not complete in the frontal

lobes of the brain until around 18 to 20 or later. Myelination on a neuron allows it to operate more efficiently. Adolescent Brain Development: Myelination Myelination happens in the temporal and parietal lobes before it happens in the frontal lobes.

What does that mean? Teens are moving from concrete to abstract thinking. Teens tend to become very idealistic & cause-oriented. Prefrontal Lobes The last area of the

brain to develop is the prefrontal lobes Prefrontal Lobes The prefrontal lobes are responsible for: Reasoning ability. Adults can provide

"learning moments" to strengthen this skill in adolescence Remember, it is a learned skill Prefrontal Lobes The prefrontal lobes are responsible for:

Goal and priority setting. Adolescents have a great deal of difficulty prioritizing Prefrontal Lobes The prefrontal lobes are responsible for: Planning and organization of multiple tasks.

Adolescents have difficulty multitasking. Prefontal Lobes The prefrontal lobes are responsible for:

Impulse inhibition Determining cause and effect relationships Determining right from wrong Ability to make sound judgments Emotional control, the third change in the adolescent brain

Resources Pat Wolfe, Mind Matters, Inc., Napa, CA: The Adolescent Brain: A Work in Progress Adolescent Growth and Development Author: Angela Huebner,

Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist, Family and Child Development, Virginia Tech Sam Goldstein, Hardwired to Learn, Learning and the Brain Conference, 2008

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