My husband gave me a newspaper clipping that contained an article from the Texarkana Gazette. It claimed that research is being done on the teenage brain! Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather! I thought that “teenage brain” was an oxymoron. I decided to do a little bit of internet research of my own about this teenage brain. Apparently, I was wrong again; there is such a thing and scientists are studying it.
Now, all you “mommy bloggers” out there should probably stop reading. I don’t want to be the one to disillusion you. I read your sweet posts with amusement, and I coo over the lovely pictures you display of your darling munchkins. I don’t have the heart to scream “enjoy it while it lasts!” You see, one day your little darling’s hormones will kick in, and you won’t know from one day to the next if you are living with Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde. You will finally understand why some animals eat their young!
Now, I’m told that girls are worse than boys, but I don’t know that for a fact, because I’ve only dealt with the four boys. My Momma always said I deserved girls, but I can’t imagine what she meant by that. I guess she was talking about the hormonal mood swings, but boys have those too. I always thought the behavior was due to hormones. I thought the thinking was going on somewhere south of the brain.
Neuroscientists at the National Institute for Mental Health have come to a different conclusion. After studying the teenage brain with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), they have discovered that the teenage brain is immature. Did they need an MRI to tell them that? Seriously, though, the prefrontal lobe, which is the control panel for the brain and particularly for reasoning and emotional responses (aka “the area of sober second thought”)doesn’t fully develop until a person is in their twenties. For some of the people I’ve known, I’d venture to say, it doesn’t develop at all.
In one study, a group of teens and a group of adults were shown this picture:
They were asked to identify the emotion expressed. The study said, “the adults correctly identified the expression as fear. Yet the teens answered ‘shocked, surprised, angry.'” I’m afraid I agreed with the teens on that one. This is the exact same expression I get when I look at the teenager’s room!
Psychologists even postulate that risk taking behavior and foolish actions by teenagers is desirable. It indicates that they are getting ready to “leave the nest.” And, they further state that this kind of behavior helps the teens survive better as adults than those teens who are coddled or controlled. That tidbit of wisdom is not going to keep me from blowing my stack if the police call me in the middle of the night with my teenager in custody!
The upshot of all this scientific psycho-babble is that teenagers will grow out of it. All they need is time to mature, so we parents just have to be patient and have a sense of humor. I wonder how many of our tax dollars got spent on this brilliant research?