W3, #1: EXPLORING THE TEEN BRAIN

Set-Up: I assume most of you have already read the Sept/Oct, 2008 issue of Harvard Magazine. What? You haven’t read it yet?

Ah, so that’s why nobody has brought up the intriguing short article, “The Teen Brain”, by Debra Bradley Ruder in class yet. No doubt someone would have pointed out the following gem of a quotation:

“This is the first generation of teenagers that has access to this information and they need to understand some of their vulnerabilities.”

Challenge: Read the article (link above). It’ll set you back about 13 paragraphs worth of reading time. Offer an opinion (based on the article) to 1 of the 3 following quotations/ideas:

  1. “…this plasticity also makes adolescent brains more vulnerable to external stressors…”
  2. “By raising awareness of this paradoxical period in brain development, the neurologists hope to help young people cope with their challenges, as well as recognize their considerable strengths.”
  3. “It’s truly a brave new world. Our brains, evolutionarily, have never been subjected to the amount of cognitive input that’s coming at us.”

Length: 7+ sentences. Again, just react to 1 of the 3 quotations/ideas to receive credit, although you are free to add more and consider the other 2 options if you’d like.

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22 responses to “W3, #1: EXPLORING THE TEEN BRAIN

  1. The phrase relating to the efforts of neurologists to “help young people cope with their challenges as well as recognize their considerable strengths,” is very interesting and admirable.

    These neurologists have truly taken it upon themselves to use their research to help all the young people possible. Their research allows teachers as well as parents to relate to their students and children on a whole different level. With this new information perhaps our schools and learning facilities will have to alter their curriculum.

    This assumption is due to the “strengths” of young people addressed by this article. These strengths include the fact that the area of the brain which processes information peaks and begins to thin in young girls two years before this occurs to young boys. This difference could be considered a strength, in that girls are ready to receive more information at an earlier age. However, adolescence of the same age regardless of their sex are taught at the same pace, hinting that perhaps there needs to be a change of some sort.

    Also it was very surprising to me when the article mentioned that mental maturity is not reached until ages 25 to 30. This means that during adolescence the brain is only 80% developed. If this maturity is not reached until this later point, why then are our teenagers considered adults at eighteen? It seems as a society we have accepted this milestone as just a label, and allowed every individual to mature at their own pace regardless of what science dictates, and that is a little disturbing. We have decided that though an individual is not completely mature they should be given the responsibilities of someone who is, but in reality we cannot keep our adolescence children until they are 25 or 30 and so perhaps this decision is an intelligent and necessary one.

    Also the neurologists suggested that this deeper understanding of the brain will allow teenagers to be reached in a way that will prevent destructive decisions. This new method might include mentioning to adolescents that alcohol is more damaging to their brains then to the brains of individuals with mature brains and even though the alcohol may have left their system it can still impede their brain’s ability to absorb information. This new knowledge from neurologists is a great tool for our society in truly understanding and reaching youths, and in our efforts to maximize the amount of information absorbed by individuals.

    ***

    Mr. Long: An extremely comprehensive, well-thought response. One might argue that you are defying the laws of neurology by out-pacing the typical adult who might stumble upon such an article at first glance.

    I’m struck by the idea you brought up that the age of 18 is merely a social construct, not a logical declaration of ‘maturity’ if you take brain science into account. Of course, I’m sure we’ll have a few disagreements on that front (he smiles).

    One might consider that the ‘average’ age of maturity doesn’t meant that people under the age of 25-30 can’t make decisions nor that one must be fully mature before being considered an ‘adult’. It merely means that one stops developing — cognitively (i.e. in the brain) — at that point.

    Also, it might be intriguing to consider that our life expectancy is remarkably longer than it was 2-4 generations ago. In fact, we live nearly 2x the length as we did 150+ years ago. Given that, we still have a ‘sense’ of adulthood starting at about the same time on legal terms as we did 100 years ago. How does the fact that we live longer, that adolescents are allowed to remain ‘safely protected’ from the real world for much longer (guaranteed high school experience, living at home until adulthood, not allowed to work in factories, treated as ‘innocent’, etc) than the adolescents from 100+ years ago change the way we look at ‘maturity’?

    BTW, congrats on being the first to answer any of Week 3’s entries in any of the 5 classes!

  2. First off, I honsestly disagree with almost everything said int his article. i know it’s “science”, but science has been wrong or inaccurate plenty of times. These are theories, not facts.

    The statement in paragraph 5, “The last section to connect is the frontal lobe, responsible for cognitive processes such as reasoning, planning, and judgment. Normally this mental merger is not completed until somewhere between ages 25 and 30” and a few others are basically saying what every adult says to teens, we aren’t as smart/reasonable/able to plan or cope as them. Those skills don’t come with age, they come with experience. Experience doesn’t specifically come with age either.

    Take a freshman pitcher and throw him as much a anyone else on varsity. He’ll know as much as anyone else and maybe even be better because of experience, not age, he doesn’t have to play for three years.

    Now to answer your question Mr. Long.

    Responding to the quote, “It’s truly a brave new world. Our brains, evolutionarily, have never been subjected to the amount of cognitive input that’s coming at us,” I honestly think that once again this is a little off.

    Sorry to disagree so much. You know how we hot headed male teens are rebeling all the time(winks).

    No, previous generations have not been exposed to the amount of information as mine, but this doesn’t mean we can’t cope with it. It may be harder for someone who wasn’t exposed like my generation has been, but humans evolve and learn because of what we are exposed to. I’ve had access to all kinds of information my whole life, so I grew up learning to process and handle it all. The human brain of a child born fifteen years ago is much different than that of one born thirty years ago, evolution is happening in subtle ways with ever child born.

    Our brains are going to be able to handle whatever is thrown at them as they grow up, that’s how nature works. That’s how we as humans work, we are ever adapting, that’s why we’re still here and dinosaurs are not.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Never hesitate to challenge or question anything, especially if you’re willing to support it with a range of ideas and passion…and do so with respect (and a certain degree of humility that all of us (me, included) have much more to learn than we can claim to know with certainty.

    3 things come to mind:

    1. Regardless of whether we like/dislike a scientific study, it seems odd — to be honest — to dismiss something because it is science. I think I know what you’re getting at: this is merely one study, not necessary a universal truth. That being said, one could interpret your initial sentences as a rejection of science. Also, theories are actually a significant part of the scientific process. One has a theory that is tested; facts (that support or challenge the theory) are then discovered. Once the majority of the scientific community (over a great deal of time/examination) agrees with the basis of the theory/facts, it becomes universal law. This means that a theory is not an insult to a scientist. And even if another study refutes this one, they still are presenting facts. In other words, it is vital that we consider the specific language we use so that our reader does not misunderstand our opinions (especially when passionately expressed at the start of a conversation).

    2. I truly appreciate the idea that this current generation (where it stops/ends, I’m not sure…) is having to deal with and embrace more content and information than previous generations. Given the sheer size of the Internet and the shrinking nature of global relationships, a young person must deal with more information than perhaps many generations combined prior to now. That being said, one can also argue that previous generations (again, you’ll have to decide when they begin/end…) was able to grasp more about less…and was truly an expert in a way the current generation cannot be given how much info exists out there. This current generation appears — at first glance — better at surfing information…but is that the same as understanding information? Also, is there a unique skill — that all generations must consider — where we figure out how to ignore certain information in order to concentrate our attention so we can make decisions after reasoned consideration?

    3. Powerful point about adaptation that you make at the end. Are all people — and all generations — equal at adapting to a quickly changing landscape of information and situations? Or are some people/types better at it than others? Is it fair to compare generations, regardless of what side you’re sitting on?

  3. Wow that was extremely interesting.

    Pertaining to the second quote, I think that’s more of an ideal than reality. While I completely agree that teens should take advantage of this information, the likelihood is that they won’t. For instance, people who smoke marijuana probably won’t give it up to think better and do better in school. If they do partake in that they were probably invited/pressured to do so in the first place, and would end up looking “stupid” if they stopped (especially with the excuse that they have a test on Thursday). That’s sad but it’s the truth; especially because kids can be so mean and a lot of them will do anything to be liked.

    Perhaps though, if teens won’t take advantage of this information, adults will. If we know how other people work, it’s easier to relate, help, “teach, punish, and medically treat” them. Sometimes we all need somebody to just look at life from our point of view, and maybe this new research will help catalyze that.

    And just speculating on the first quote: if teens are more susceptible to external stress such as alcohol, do most alcoholics begin drinking in their teens? How much faster do teens become dependent than adults? Does that also mean that damages to the other vulnerable organs are accelerated as well? It also seems like this article could spark arguments over the current drinking age. If the current starting age is 21, and the brain doesn’t mature until 25-30, then those who are allowed to drink as they please from 21-24 are more susceptible to damage. I’m not arguing a change in the drinking age, I’m just pointing out where I think one could arise.

    ***

    Mr. Long: While I do believe in my gut that a person of any age (adult or teen alike) can take advantage of new information to better guide their lives, I understand the pragmatic response you offered re: the issue of peer pressure, etc. And I really value how you suggested that maybe such information needs to be taken advantage of by adults who may be in a better position to gently/directly lead younger people to better decisions. I’m sure there will be debate about this, but I think you offered a measured/thoughtful response.

    Nice point: “Sometimes we all need somebody to just look at life from our point of view, and maybe this new research will help catalyze that.”

    BTW, very intriguing points re: alcohol and dependency. I would imagine that social pressures (as you hinted at earlier) — whether peers or commercials — play a big role, but clearly genetics is something that we need to consider…as well as what cognitive/brain scientists are discovering about how our brain processes information and opportunities/choices.

    Again, great reply!

  4. This is a very interesting article, especially to me. It seems “brain development” is a big topic in my family. From my grandmother down, the grown-ups justify sitting the children down to study from the age when they could hardly sit up by saying that young brains can absorb information faster, easier, and with longer staying-power. This article actually backs the grownups in the family. They will be glad to know that it says that the “long-term potentiation” enables children and teenagers to learn languages or musical instruments, at least, more easily than adults, and they did us, the children, a big favor by teaching us more things (such as multiplication table) than what was considered normal, before we started kindergarten.

    The article then shows the flip side of the plasticity of young brains—that young brains are also more vulnerable to external stressors, such as alcohol or drug-induced toxicity. It seems that there are new data that shows that young brains have both fast-growing synapses and sections that remain unconnected. It makes perfect sense to me that these unconnected sections (the frontal lobe) would leave us vulnerable to stressors (such as alcohol or drugs) and lacking on cognitive process, such as reasoning, planning, and judgment. It makes a lot of sense to me and I feel that the smart thing to do would be to not expose myself to stressors (such as alcohol or drugs). Trusting adults such as my parents to help me reason, plan, and make certain judgment at my age is also a smart thing, at least until the unconnected sections are more developed. It is stupid to rebel for the sake of rebelling.

    I don’t agree with the assumption that our brains, evolutionarily, have never been subjected to the amount of cognitive input that’s coming at us. I don’t believe that just because we have the computer and the internet that makes a lot of information available to us, we are facing more challenges of “information overload” than our ancestors. I believe our ancestors had a lot of information to learn as well, and they had to figure out survival with much less information and protection than we do. I think they probably had more fighting and wars than us. Facing fighting and survival at close quarters takes a lot of processing of information. Are there any studies done to compare the amount of “cognitive input” thrown at us as opposed to our ancestors?

    Regardless of what I said on the last paragraph, I appreciate the scientists, such as Urion and Jensen, who actually did the research on this matter, and then are giving lectures about it to help us. Knowing our young brain’s limitation would help us to know that we don’t know it all.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Nice to see you use the word “plasticity” in your response, my friend. Subtle but effective in the way you offer it.

    A rational/thoughtful response: “It makes perfect sense to me that these unconnected sections (the frontal lobe) would leave us vulnerable to stressors (such as alcohol or drugs) and lacking on cognitive process, such as reasoning, planning, and judgment. It makes a lot of sense to me and I feel that the smart thing to do would be to not expose myself to stressors (such as alcohol or drugs).”

    Definitely curious how your peers will respond to the following: “It is stupid to rebel for the sake of rebelling.”

    So very compelling what you say next. While it is tempting to assume this current world faces more ‘info’ than any other time, but perhaps it is a relative thing since we only assume a fraction of the total by adding onto what the previous generation prepares us for. You said: ” I believe our ancestors had a lot of information to learn as well, and they had to figure out survival with much less information and protection than we do.”

    Great reply. Thoughtful and detailed. Can’t ask for anything more.

  5. “It’s truly a brave new world. Our brains, evolutionarily, have never been subjected to the amount of cognitive input that’s coming at us.”

    The word information superhighway is not an understatement. Teenagers are bombarded with multitasking and completing assignments quickly and thoroughly, which is more and more difficult when they need to absorb more and more information. The stress on the brain doesn’t really ameliorate the situation either, giving them more to deal with and less patience to do it with. Unless the world in general embraces the idea of less stress, the point of this article really can’t make a difference. The teenage brain won’t change how it develops, and the world won’t stop throwing curveballs at these vulnerable beings.

    The only weapon teenagers have against the injuries people and things inflict is thinking they’re invincible. The impulsive behavior and raging hormones give them reasons to believe that nothing bad can happen. As long as this is true, no matter how much information and drama is thrown at them, there is nothing they can’t recover from. The ‘plasticity’ of the teenage brains leans them more towards change and fixing things than the adult brain, which is much more set in its ways.

    ***

    Mr. Long: Intriguing how vocab words are cleverly showing up in a few of our entries. (Nice work, my friend).

    Love the last idea about how “change” (i.e. adaptation) may be an inherent strength of younger brains. With every weakness (so to speak) comes a strength.

  6. I could say that I agree with the first quote. Adolescents are still young, and so therefore have not completely grown yet. It is definitely true that younger people learn faster than older people, but that has a downside to it too. Young ones can learn bad and harmful things just as quickly as they can learn good things.

    I seems at this stage, the brain ‘lusts’ for more knowledge and feeds on what can make it know more. The brain takes in these things like a sponge, even if something is harmful. Therefore it seems likely that the brain is more vulnerable to alcohol-induced toxicity when it hasn’t fully grown yet. Maybe the effects of alcohol are multiplied when dealing with a teen brain because the brain learns faster and therefore more susceptible to harm.

    It is probably similar to child abuse; if a parent hits, scolds, and destroys their child when he/she is little, that child will probably treat their kids like crap, too. The way that the child’s parents treated him/her is engraved into the child’s brain and the child probably thinks that is what parenting is supposed to be like.

    And so, the plasticity of a teen’s brain makes adolescent brains more vulnerable to external stressors, and I agree with Jensen and Urion with this statement.

    ***

    Mr. Long: You caught my eye as you mentioned that strengths can have a downside, too (as I mentioned with a previous student).

  7. “It’s truly a brave new world. Our brains, evolutionarily, have never been subjected to the amount of cognitive input that’s coming at us.”

    It really is amazing how much the human brain has evolved. I picture peasants working in a field, holding a hoe or whatever. They had NO idea of all the technology that had yet to be discovered! Even the nobility and scientists and all of them – no idea! What they comprehended day to day was nothing compared to all the mess we modern-day humans accept as day-to-day normal.

    I’d like to think that we’re tougher than the earlier people were, handling all this new technology and stuff. But really we’re just adapted to it. So, the newest technology of their time seemed super amazing to THEM.

    I love that quote from the 1800’s: “Everything that can be invented, has been invented.” Ha ha, really? It’s also interesting to look at movies and books that were made/written years ago that tried to describe the future. In 2001: A Space Odessey, they had these TV communication screens where you could talk to the other person and see them at the same time, but nobody in 1968 would ever have thought of making any of that stuff flat-screen or handheld. They had no idea!

    And years from now, there will be all kinds of cool new stuff, and we don’t have any idea either!

    ***

    Mr. Long: Brilliant ending: parallel structure that grabs the reader’s imagination.

  8. First off, I completely agree with the article. I see teens making ignorant not well thought out decisions every day and I find my self doing the same thing. I can see, however, how it would come across as offensive to some teenagers. Most think that they are invincible and that they rule the world and hearing that their brains have less connections than when they were five… let’s just say that would make them turn to that rebellious attitude that adults just love. 🙂

    I actually find research on the human brain very interesting, and I have read a few articles on it before. They say that our brains are constantly losing and making new connections throughout our adolescence. That ‘rewiring’ affect is what creates our judgment to be so backwards, for it is one of the last neurons to reconnect. This is indicated in this article by “The last section to connect is the frontal lobe, responsible for cognitive processes such as reasoning, planning, and judgment.’’ I believe this constant loss and gain of connections is what causes the plasticity in our brains.

    “…this plasticity also makes adolescent brains more vulnerable to external stressors…”

    Teenage brains are moldable. That is why we are affected by everything going on around us, and distracted by it. I believe this may be another reason teens have become so (for lack of a better word) corrupted by media, drug use and ‘hormones’. This malleability of our brains combined with the technology and complexity of life today makes us vulnerable to being distracted causing the whole ‘ADD’ and ‘ADHD’ movement of our generation. I will probably be murdered for this next part, but I don’t believe in attention deficit disorders. Ask any teen if they find homework interesting, if they don’t become distracted on a test or while studying. The fact is school is not supposed to be entertaining every moment of every day. ‘ADD’ is just an excuse for teens to have no self discipline. Maybe one out of every 100 teens that take medicine for that disorder actually need it, but for the most part it is simply an excuse to do poorly in school and be lazy.

    “Similarly, even though there is evidence that sleep is important for learning and memory, teenagers are notoriously sleep-deprived. Studying right before bedtime can help cement the information under review, Jensen notes. So can aerobic exercise, says Urion, bemoaning the current lack of physical-education opportunities for many American youths.”

    I absolutely love this quote. I think it is so true. If I study right before bed I remember what I studied so much better the next day and even if I have a ton of home work I always workout because otherwise I’m so distracted I don’t know what to do with myself.

    Over all, teenagers should not find articles like this one offensive. It is simply adults trying to help out the next generation. Eventually brains do reconnect and when they do the connections are even stronger. And come on, when our generation is parents of teens we will most certainly use this article and others like it against our children letting them know why we should still have authority and so we can help those who hold our future.

  9. “By raising awareness of this paradoxical period in brain development, the neurologists hope to help young people cope with their challenges, as well as recognize their considerable strengths.”

    My opinion on this is that its good!

    Many young people dwell on their weaknesses and don’t see their strengths. I believe that not seeing the good in themselves is what leads to so many teens making bad decisions. They feel as if they are not good enough so then they go and do drugs to make them “feel better”.

    Many times the schools in my opinion don’t even regonize that all that work they give the kids is stressing them out. That is a HUGE challenge. Esspecially at a school like ours where you are required to participate in sports, the sports don’t end untill like 6 so then by the time most get home they need to eat dinner, shower and by the time they get to homework its 730. Then with all the work the get stressed out and end up staying up till midnight doing work….which is probably a main cause of why so many teens are sleep deprived along with texting..computers and tv.

    So if a neurologist can help a teen figure our how to manage all of this and overcome that challenge then teens wouldn’t be so stressed and could find the good in themselves. I think if that happened a lot more teens would find their strength …something they are good at.

  10. If they want to “raise awareness” and help “young people cope with their challenges” they need to find a better way to do it. I couldn’t read the whole thing at once. I guess that’s why it’s in “Harvard magazine”. There are plenty of ways to “raise awareness” that will “raise awareness”. They could make a commercial. I can sit through one of those.

    And it says about us being the “first generation” to have access to this information. If I hadn’t decided to do this one I probably would have gone my whole life without knowing anything about it. If they want to raise awareness they need to practice what they preach and raise awareness.

  11. Quote 2: “By raising awareness of this paradoxical period in brain development, the neurologists hope to help young people cope with their challenges, as well as recognize their considerable strengths.”

    First of all, I found this article very interesting about how the brain develops and matures. It is fascinating how the brain reaches its full size around the age of 6, but keeps internally developing until we are 25-30.

    While the scientific research done about the brain is very interesting, and can be useful to teachers, I disagree with the neurologists desire to help young people “cope” with the difficulties of having a developing brain. The neurologists can tell adolescents about how their brain matures throughout their lives, and why it is why it is easier to learn languages and play instruments at a younger age, but the neurologists cannot “teach” these children how to act mature beyond their years. The teens can know that they are more sensitive to things like alcohol or drugs, but that is not going to prevent them from trying it.

    Part of the way the brain matures and learns is by making mistakes, and the neurologists seem to want to prevent teens from making these naïve mistakes. People are shaped by the mistakes that they make in their life. The brain development, is like puberty, you know what is happening within you, and why, but that does not lessen its affects. The way to “cope” with it is to accept it and live your life, regardless of the few bumps in the road.

    Another opinion that I had with regards to this quote was how these scientists seem to be “overreacting” with the new information regarding the brain’s plasticity. The brain has developed the same way for hundreds of years, and mankind overall has not been the worse for it. And yet, because scientists now have this information, they feel they must “protect” the next generation from the plight of the last hundred.

  12. Before:
    Right now, I have not read the article besides the quotes given to us. I wanted to say some of the things that come to mind before reading this article. I like the fact that this seems like one of the very few articles that actually sees the good and the strengths of most of our generation rather than focusing about how ‘those teens don’t have any sense these days,’ as many of the past generations have pointed out multiple times. I also feel many times that many people see us as the ‘screw up’ generation, and so some of us feel belittled. I think this article will allow the reader to see us differently and understand us a little better than before.

    After:
    I have to say I do feel much like one of those rats that they experiment on or like I’m lying on the lab table after my anesthesia has w0rn off and they are reviewing their brain experiment. (she smiles) I find the third quote intriguing because it should be the main goal of their experiments and all who support, or disagree with their ideas should know it. I could very much see people who already are ‘against’ this generation saying ‘based on all of these facts, that’s why kids should have so much freedom ect. (May I tell you that no freedom leads to dependency on others and a lack of experiences that would not happen until we were ‘free’ so it doesn’t really eliminate anything.)

    But that’s not the point of this research. This research is to ‘help’ us know how and why we think/do what we do. Not to prove that we are ‘stupid’ in a sense. I agreed more with this article when I read this last statement. It was a very wise and clear message to us, and it has to be told with sincere honesty, or else all of their efforts are, marked by me, just working toward another experiment and hypothesis against us, the next generation.

  13. Student #12 responding to Mr. Long

    Referring to Mr. Long’s response to student #2.

    I think that older generations are hesitant about change mainly because of their situations growing up. Some were involved or just lived during life changing wars, which could often lead a person into wanting stability, something they can depend on, which is why I think they attach to change.

    For us, we have only been around for 15 or 16 years and only probably have 11 or 12 years of actual life that we remember (this is not fact, but its how long ago I can remember.) So we really don’t know for sure what is change (or what isn’t), and what is life besides change of teachers, homes, friends, environments, etc.

    We might be more inclined to not want change when we are older, but as for now, our whole life has been change, so we really don’t know the whole and complete difference.

  14. “…this plasticity also makes adolescent brains more vulnerable to external stressors…”

    That is a very true statement. I think that teenagers are in general under more stress than most adults, not because we have to do more than adults, but because we let it affect us more than adults do. We are growing up in an entirely new era. There’s a lot more advancements in technology that separate us from our parents (not to mention grandparents) than there were twenty years ago, and we are exposed to a lot more.

    I guess we’re sort of an experimental generation, and we’ll see how Google and the power of the Internet affected us when we’re all grown up, huh?

    Anyways, this was a very interesting article. I know that by the time I’m old and waking up at five in the morning to get the early bird special at some diner, society will be even more different. I’m honestly looking forward to seeing how even further advancements affect even later generations.

  15. “It’s truly a brave new world. Our brains, evolutionarily, have never been subjected to the amount of cognitive input that’s coming at us.”

    I 100% agree with everything said in this quote.

    Throughout the years technology has been impacting people’s lives greatly. The technology we have today is that which no one before could ever have thought possible. We depend on technology everyday to help us achieve our goals. The younger generation has so many sources that they should use to their advantage for their knowledge and opportunities.

    But there is also that negative part about the internet. People abusing their abilities, the ability of information to spread in merely seconds from one country to the next, and the effect it has on our health. Slouching over the computer at night, blasting the ipod, and talking on cell phones.

    As I get older I wonder what’s going to be the ‘cool’ thing and how its going to effect my life.

    Is there going to be any change at all or are we going to live like the Hadley family in the veldt?

  16. I think that in the quote “It’s truly a brave new world. Our brains, evolutionarily, have never been subjected to the amount of cognitive input that’s coming at us.” they make a good quote.

    With the advent of the computer age and the internet, we have access to information from all over the world. Not only that but teens also watch TV and take in all of the commercials as well.

    I think the point I’m trying to make is that if they don’t learn to control the amount of information and find out what to do with it all then they will be reduced to mindless blobs of flesh. Now while that is good for the major corporations, since the blobs would then simply buy everything in the stores, it’s not so good for modern America and how we would turn out if that happened. We should go even more down hill then we are now in terms of global standing and debts. If we don’t do something fast then we will not be in good shape.

  17. I would hate to go against others who think otherwise, but I would have agree with what is said in the first quote.

    All people are most vulnerable to peer presure in high school. I know this because I have expierienced it firsthand, and I hate it with a passion. How many times has a kid bought a pair of shoes to try to look like the others his age? It’s a serious problem to not only teens in the U.S, but also to teen around the world. However, this is also true if someone is constantly told that they are a loser, because after a certain point, they will also believe that they are worhtless, and that’s what leads to depression and sorrow. However, we teens are also influenced if people were to constantly suck up to them, and that leads to arrogance.

    It’s the proverbial double-edged sword, and that’s what makes teens so unpredictable.

  18. “It’s truly a brave new world. Our brains, evolutionarily, have never been subjected to the amount of cognitive input that’s coming at us.”

    First off i completely agree with this article.

    Technology has a big effect on us all. We use it everyday in our lives. We have made amazing progress in this field. I don’t think people ever thought this advancement could be made, but it did. If we don’t do something maybe someday technology will overcome us. New things are coming out everyday from the cellphones we use to the newer model of cars. We won’t be in good shape if we don’t do something quickly.

  19. Wow. I never thought that my generation was any different than the ones that came before it.

    The quote that really got me was: “It’s truly a brave new world. Our brains, evolutionarily, have never been subjected to the amount of cognitive input that’s coming at us.”

    That seems rather strange to me. I do know that a lot of kids in my generation use the computer for a large amount of time. Before reading the article I thought that was a normal thing and people use to do stuff like this before.

    Looking back at those few memories I have of the 90’s I remember that my Dad use to use the computer mainly as a typewriter. It was a simpler time. I remeber my parents spending most of their time watching TV. Now they, just like me surf the internet a lot.

    Nowadays, the computer is just a way to get to the internet. The internet has many uses and purposes, but it is used mainly for entertainment. I think that it is strange that the internet would cause teenagers to make bad decisions as the passage implies, however. These behaviors that are associated with teens have been around way longer than the internet and really nothing has changed. We are still the same people. The world around may change in the blink of the eye, but we will never change.

  20. I would like to comment on the second quote:

    “By raising awareness of this paradoxical period in brain development, the neurologists hope to help young people cope with their challenges, as well as recognize their considerable strengths.”

    I think this quote means they want to help teenagers not by telling them they have made a bad choice and to punish them, but to tell them they made a bad choice and help them correct it. They want to show them the better choice they could have made and show them the better outcome. I think they believe this will help them in their future, not only to not make the same mistake they did last time, but to teach them to go down a better path.

    Most teenagers would do anything to be cool and fit in, so they are trying to teach them they can still make the right choice in life and not be critized. Then again, they didn’t write this article to say teenagers these days aren’t very smart in decision making but just to show they are trying to fit in. Teenagers brains are soaking in everything they learn and see right now so we need to show them good things to do, that will help them later on in life. Most teenagers today are very capable of making good decisions, but as a human who is never perfect, sometimes they just need a little push towards the right direction.

  21. First I will admit that I have only read a few of the latest blogs I see in all these responses so I might be repeating what someone else has said.

    I found this article interesting. I definitely agree that children are better at learning something new than adults but this article helped me understand why this is so.

    The article said languages and musical instruments which I agree but I also believe it is more than just languages and musical instruments, it can be anything like working a computer or knowing how to make and build a cabinet.

    “By raising awareness of this paradoxical period in brain development, the neurologists hope to help young people cope with their challenges, as well as recognize their considerable strengths.”

    Giving awareness of this theory to other people will probably greatly help but only up to a certain point. People may be aware of this brain development but like just about all things, people may not care to try to help themselves or help other people. There may also be other people who do care but do not know how to cope with their situation.

    An example will be like you are playing a game who has a strategy and you know what his strategy is. You may know what the other player’s strategy is but whether you can cope with it, make it to your own advantage, and/or prevent his/her strategy so that you can win is another problem. Someone can relate this to chess. You may see a move that another player in which he/she would therefore win but whether someone can prevent that from happening is another question.

    To relate this more with people aging, you can compare it to people becoming old, losing their memory and becoming a little bit crazy. My mom told me that she knew someone who said that she did not want to become like those very old people but as time went on, she began to become one after her husband died a couple of years ago. At least right now it is not very extreme and she seams to be getting better. I am not sure how old she is right now but I know she is over seventy. My great granddad on the other side of the family is actually doing quite well for his age interestingly enough.

    I found “mental merger is not completed until somewhere between ages 25 and 30” quite interesting.

    Today, in the U.S., people are considered to be an adult once they are in there early twenties. However, there are other places around the world like third world countries that consider you an adult once you are about twelve or fourteen and put you, particularly the girls, in an arranged marriage.

    In the middle ages, according to our magazine article in our English book, “Life in 999: A grim Struggle” by Howard G.Chua-Eoan, it says “A man was lucky to survive 30, and 50 was a ripe old age. Apparently most were just lucky to even reach the age where their brain is fully developed. “There was no time for what is now considered childhood” (in our English book).

    Imagine life where you have to work all day and have no fun which is actually still like that today for some people who were born unfortunate. The people in the middle ages must have found it normal even if they hate their life since everyone else in their surroundings were doing the same thing even “Emperors were leading armies in their teens” (in our English book). Some people say that Barak Obama is too inexperienced but think about our country with a president who is only in his/her teens.

    Of course this cannot happen because you have to be at least 35 to run for president. At least for now we know that our president should have their brains completely developed even though that does not mean you are not grown up like until you are age 25 or 30. If you are raised to be mature at an early age, then you will probably making mature choices a lot earlier than most.

    To that I agree with “teens easily influenced by their environment and more prone to impulsive behavior”. Although I think grown ups could be influenced by their surrounding as well, perhaps just not as well.

  22. “…this plasticity also makes adolescent brains more vulnerable to external stressors…”

    I would have to agree 100% with this quote.

    I believe that adolescents have to undergo much more stress than adults have to undergo. It may be a lesser degree of stress but it’s much more, hands down. Day to day we have to deal with making the positive choices to make our parents proud and basically everything we do is to make our parents proud, to get the seal of approval.

    At the same time, I’m not down grading the things that adults deal with on a day to day basis, I’m simply pointing out that it’s not the same. I’m pretty sure that an adult has enough experience to say “no” when being pressured to do drugs or drink alcohol or to do something out of their element. On the other hand, an adolescent, with little or no experience with that kind of stress will feel pressured into doing something that may result in a fatal mistake.

    Once again that goes to prove my point that no matter what adults may say like “you don’t have anything to be stressed about” “you’re a child you don’t know what stress is” take it from me, WE KNOW WHAT STRESS IS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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