Verbatim: Why are teens so crazy? It’s all in our brains

  • By Chloe Kincaid
  • Monday, February 23, 2015 1:46pm
  • NewsSchools

Have you ever wondered why teenagers are so crazy? We now have the answer. In recent years, scientists have discovered many new things about how the brain works and develops. Using MRIs, we are able to study brain activity. This sets the stage for new information about the teenage brain! It used to be thought that the brain was done developing by around age 10 (the time you stopped saying things like “boughted”). Now, however, we know that that’s not the case. A human brain learns all of it’s life, and it doesn’t stop growing and renovating until you are in your mid-20s. Finding out what parts of the brain are changing during adolescence sheds light on some of teenager’s most irritating qualities: selfishness, risk taking, weakness to peer pressure, and a constant need for sleep.

The brain develops from back to front. From back to front, the brain slowly becomes faster and more connected and efficient. This means that the last part of the brain to be fully “hooked-up” to the rest is the very front, the prefrontal cortex. This also happens to be the part of the brain that has rational thought, plans, and comprehends the emotions of other people. In teenagers, it’s still cooking. So, when compared to adults, teens are bad at weighing consequences when making decisions, and thinking of the feelings of others.

Another thing that is different in the teen brain versus the adult brain is the pleasure center. The part of the brain that says, “Hey! This is good!” is much more active in the teen brain. Teens’ pleasure centers are especially sensitive to social rewards, which is where peer pressure comes in. The combination of both their reasoning being not up to snuff and social acceptance being given way too much priority, teens are understandably bad at making decisions when their popularity is on the line. It’s not just in social situations when the teenage brain gets excited. It gets revved up with any risk. The teenage brain holds the possible rewards and satisfaction higher than the possible danger.

Teenagers’ sleep patterns can also helped to be explained by understanding their brains. The pituitary gland releases a growth hormone during REM sleep, making them need much more deep sleep than a person not going through a growth spurt. New research also indicates that a teenager’s brain, compared to other ages,  might actually not start getting sleepy until later in the evening. Though researchers aren’t completely sure if this is just because many teenagers stupidly get in the habit of staying up late, which their body adapts to.

The adolescent brain isn’t all cons. The drive to take risks pushes a teen to get out of the house and find their own way. It helps them establish their identity through trial and error. They develop close social bonds and grow to understand people more. Because the brain isn’t finished creating itself yet, it is very adaptable; and so teens are good at learning new things.

This adaptability adds another cautionary factoid to the subject of developing brains: teens can get addicted very easily. Teens’ brains “learn” and “adapt” to drugs and alcohol. This isn’t the type of stuff that you want your brain to grow around.

Teens, take care of your brains. This is a time in your life where you need to get enough sleep and stay away from too much stress and harmful substances. I think that many teenagers think that what they do now can be changed when they are adults, but we are literally shaping the way our brain is growing. Take appropriate care, please. And, adults, please be patient with us, we are still growing in this world. We aren’t as crazy as you think.

Chloe Kincaid is a student at Soldotna High School.

More in News

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
Alexis Alamillo, of Anchorage, carries a sockeye salmon caught in a dipnet from the mouth of the Kenai River on Wednesday.
Kenai River dipnetting now open 24 hours a day

The liberalization of fishing regulation was effective starting Thursday evening

A drone rises into the air while kicking up dust, departing on a test flight for the use of beyond visual line of sight drone aircraft, at Furie Operating Alaska’s central processing facility in Nikiski, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Drone test flight operates beyond visual line of sight between Nikiski and a Cook Inlet platform

The drone could perform deliveries to and from Cook Inlet platforms

A map of Lower Skilak Campground shows the areas that will be closed in July and August 2024. (Graphic provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Areas of Lower Skilak Campground to close for repair starting Monday

The East Loop will be closed — projected to be reopened at noon on Aug. 4

Kenai Courthouse is photographed on Feb. 26, 2019, in Kenai, Alaska. (Clarion file)
Sterling resident sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexual abuse of minors

Additionally, Crane will face 15 years of supervised probation as well as sex offender registration and treatment

Shrubs grow outside of the Kenai Courthouse on Monday, July 3, 2023 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Former Soldotna police officer acquitted of 2023 assault allegations

He was found not guilty following a five-day trial in late June

A parade of cars and trucks flying flags in support of former President Donald Trump proceed down the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, July 14, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Residents caravan across central peninsula in support of Trump

The parade came a day after an attempted assassination of the former president

Drummers perform during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, July 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenaitze tribe celebrates 10 years of ‘far-fetched dream’ at wellness center

Community members recognized the work done at the Dena’ina Wellness Center over the past decade

The Kenai Safeway is seen on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai and Soldotna Safeways may be sold under proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger

The local stores will be sold to CS Wholesale Grocers only if the merger overcomes suit from the FTC

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Draft plan published for disbursement of $11.5 million in 2021 and 2022 ESSN disasters

Public comment will be accepted for the draft spend plan until July 24

Most Read