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  • Being a teen can be an amazing time of discovery, learning, and friendship, but it’s also

  • a time of rapid change, and emotional highs and lows where things can feel reallytough’.

  • So, what’s going on in our brains and bodies that makes us feel this way?

  • Why is being a teen so hard?

  • Were often told that the most important years of brain development are between 0-5,

  • although recent research has found adolescent development to be equally important.

  • During childhood, our brains continually grow, generating grey matter until they reach their

  • maximum size, which for girls is around age 12 and boys around age 14. But even after this, the

  • the brain works to become more efficient by cutting away unused grey matter that isn’t ‘exercised

  • by experience, and at the same time increasing myelin which is fatty tissue that insulates brain pathways.

  • Puberty begins in the hypothalamus, where a protein called kisspeptin is produced,

  • triggering the pituitary gland to unleash the hormones testosterone, estrogen and progesterone.

  • These activate the ovaries and testes, but also cause you to seek emotionally charged experiences

  • - whether it’s a movie to make you sob, or driving 180 km/h down the freeway.

  • It causes your response to emotionally loaded images or sounds to be more intense,

  • which is why listening to One Direction may produce large bouts of the feels.

  • The area of the brain responsible for planning ahead and assessing risk is still immature in teenagers.

  • Which is why teens are more likely to participate in high risk behaviour

  • like unprotected sex and drinking and driving. Interestingly, in a simulated driving experience,

  • adults and teens took the same amount of driving risks while alone; however, when surrounded

  • by an audience of friends, teens took significantly more risks while adults were unaffected.

  • What’s the benefit of this behaviour? Peer acceptance.

  • In a study where teens were asked to rank music clips with and without knowing

  • what their peers picked, their choices changed. Unlike small children and adults,

  • feeling socially isolated as a teen creates feelings of intense unworthiness. This along with our

  • biology can contribute to teens prioritizing friends over even family. As social animals,

  • stepping outside the safety of our family creates genetically diverse populations,

  • diminishing the likliness of inbreeding. In fact, teens have heightened social abilities like processing

  • and evaluating facial expressions better than other age groups, allowing teens to be extremely

  • cognisant of friends joy, sadness, or stress.

  • Speaking of stress, the hormone released in stressful situations to help soothe the

  • brain cells of children and adults has the opposite impact on teens, causing an increase

  • in anxiety. Pair that with a change in circadian rhythms making you to want to wake three to

  • four hours later than adults, it’s no wonder some people describe teens as emotionally

  • moody’.

  • On the other hand, teens are very physically healthy. The immune system is highly functioning,

  • teens have increased tolerance to temperature changes and a high resistance to cancer.

  • But despite physical fitness, records show that death rates increase by 200-300% after childhood

  • due to motor vehicle accidents, homicide and suicide.

  • Scientists believe that

  • the many changes in white matter, grey matter, and connections in the brain may be to blame,

  • with an increased risk of errors during this time.

  • But with a greater number of synaptic connections, and increased plasticity, the teenage brain

  • is primed to learn quickly and memorize content fast. Unlike an older brain, rooted in what

  • it knows, teens can respond easily to their environment and make incredible strides in

  • communication and socialization. Not to mention being passionate is incredibly valuable and

  • taking risks is often what is needed to make changes in your life and the lives of others

  • - being a teen can be tough, but it can also be amazing.

  • If you want to know why teens are the biggest super fans and become obsessed with their

  • favourite bands or shows, check out our latest AsapTHOUGHT on the Science of Fandom.

  • Links in the description! And subscribe for more weekly science videos.

Being a teen can be an amazing time of discovery, learning, and friendship, but it’s also

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Why Are Teens So Moody?

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    Frank posted on 2016/03/21
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