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This is Your Brain on Adolescence

 

Narrator:        This is Science Today. As every parent of a teenager knows all too well, the adolescent years can be turbulent. A spike in hormones is often blamed, but it turns out the brain has a lot to do with it, too. Silvia Bunge, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley discovered that an adolescent's pre-frontal cortex - the part of the brain involved in complex decision making - is not yet capable of the rational decisions that grown-ups make.

Bunge:            One exciting new difference that we've found between children and adults is that children activate the part of the brain that's important for solving problems too late.

Narrator:        Bunge and her colleagues used MRI scans to measure the brain function of adolescents playing an analogical game and found that they were pressing a button before completely having thought about the problem.

Bunge:            One of the things that our lab is trying to do is to train children to think carefully before responding - think before acting and see whether we can show improvements in reasoning ability

Narrator:        For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.