explain why adolescents act the way that they do.

Rebecca Felczak. Student 1

My general reaction to this video is about how much more there is to learn regarding development through adolescence. It makes me think about how through modern imaging and scientific technology researchers will be able to learn even more about the inner workings of the body/brain and how biological development interplays with psychological and social development. I think it is fair to say that an implication of this research could be how teenagers and juveniles are charged and sentenced after committing a crime. Hutchinson (2015) discussed how there is greater peer affiliation during adolescence compared to earlier developmental stages, and how social influence plays an important role in the life of an adolescent. The researcher in the video discusses how brain development is not complete during adolescence, and that adolescents are more likely to take risks, act impulsively, and to more heavily weight their social interactions and how others perceive them. Due to the more impulsive and socially impressionable brain of an adolescent, an 18 year old committing a crime is not necessarily equivalent to a 30 year old committing the same crime. This is not to say that adolescents shouldn’t be held responsible for their actions, but when it comes to the law there is great variation between states as to what age a person can be tried as an adult based on the crime committed. Since adolescents’ brain development is directly tied to novelty seeking and risky behavior, it is fair to say that brain development itself can somewhat explain why adolescents act the way that they do.

This research could imply that lawmakers should redefine what it means to be tried as a minor for criminal offenses. This research could also lead to better rehabilitation practices when working with minors with criminal justice backgrounds. Throughout adolescence, teens will develop improved reasoning skills, abstract thinking, and meta-cognition (Hutchinson, 2015), so by incorporating therapeutic practices that capitalize on and aim to strengthen this cognitive development while acknowledging how peer relationships and frontal lobe development influence behavior, teens can have access to the rehabilitation resources and services they need. Hutchinson (2015) discusses how juvenile delinquency can be a challenge to development through adolescence, and the research behind this can be used to adjust the ages at which you can be arrested and charged with certain crimes. The research can also adjust how those most at risk for juvenile delinquency are treated and what services are provided to them in order to assist their development through adolescence.

Stefany Fortin. Student 2

What an eloquent speaker! I really enjoyed watching it.

One thing I learned is that adolescence ends at age when an individual reaches a stable, independent role in society. I had never thought of this developmental stage that way, but it makes sense to think of environmental and occupational factors playing a role in brain development. This made me wonder about the brain of people who retire. What kind of changes happen as one slows down, on top of biological aging of the brain as an organ?

In adolescence, a lot of changes happen in the brain, particularly with regards to gray matter volume (which declines) and the maturity of the pre-frontal cortex, an area involved in the display of so-called socially appropriate behaviors. I got from that that there is an “inventory” happening in the brain during adolescence where “clutter” is discarded (a process called pruning) and the most important, best quality connections remain and are strengthened.

Everything the speaker said tied the content of the course together in a coherent manner which made me realize how much I have learned (even though my brain has technically stopped growing at this point!). While I knew that the social brain is not fully developed in adolescence, I learned that adolescent use different cognitive strategies to understand social situations compared to adults with fully developed pre-frontal cortex.

One implication of the research I can think of is whether that knowledge could be used to teach adolescents about what is happening with their brain, and perhaps alleviate the burden that comes with this developmental stage. I would use the analogy of inventory, clutter and cleaning to explain to adolescent the turmoil they are experiencing. Another thing I wondered is if we could teach adolescents compensatory strategies to make up for the lack of brain maturity, and ultimately decrease undesirable, potentially dangerous behaviors and increase empathy. I would use the analogy of a a filter (like the ones they use on social medias for their pictures!) to explain the need for such strategies.

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