Have you ever wondered why teenagers seem so much more impulsive, so much less self-aware and so much more willing to take risks than adults? If you have a teenager whose behavior is baffling, you'll be happy to know that scientists are finally beginning to understand the biological reasons that teenagers act the way they do. And it has everything to do with the development of their brains — not just that they're trying to drive you crazy.
Cognitive neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore took a look at the prefrontal cortex in adolescents and compared it to that of adults, to show us how typical “teenage” behavior is caused by the growing and developing brain. In her studies, she found that the areas of the brain that are still developing in adolescence are directly responsible for social behavior. This is why teenagers are always so mortified by their parent's behavior. And it's also why teens seem to have a hard time seeing things from another's perspective.
As Blakemore notes, "the ability to take into account someone else's perspective, in order to guide ongoing behavior ... is still developing in mid to late adolescence."
This type of research might be able to better help educators — and parents — understand the teenage brain and how best to help it grow into adulthood.
You can watch Blakemore's full talk below: