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Everything you need
to know about the

Teen Brain
Significant brain growth and development occurs
during adolescence and continues into the twenties
       adolescence,                        twenties.
      Some studies show that this growth and
        development extends to the age of 30!
                                     (Sowell et al., 1999; Sowell et al., 2001)
Adolescent brain development can be divided
                into three processes:


• Proliferation (rapid growth of brain matter and the
  formation of new connections within the brain)


• Pruning (cutting away of unused or unimportant
        ti   )
  connections)

• Myelination (insulating of brain pathways to
  make them faster and more stable)  )
                                       (Sowell et al., 1999; Sowell et al., 2001)
Proliferation: Total brain volume

                                 By age 6, the brain is
                                 about 95% of its
                                 maximum size.

                             *   It reaches its maximum
                                 size at 11.5 years in
                                 g
                                 girls*, and at 14.5 years
                                       ,                    y
                                 in boys*. (Giedd et al., 1999)
                         *
                                 Boys brains are larger
                                 (on average) than girls
                                 brains.
                                 b i
Lenroot & Giedd (2006)
Remember…

       Maximum brain size
           does not mean
           maximum brain
                maturity!

     The brain continues to
         mature for at least
          another 10 years.
Remember…



          And although boys
    brains are anatomically
    bigger than girls brains,
           size is not directly
      related to intelligence.
The tissue of the brain can be divided into two
      types of matter, grey and white. These
     tissues grow and mature at diff
     ti               d    t     t different rates.
                                           t t




Grey matter looks grey
to the naked eye. It is        White matter looks white
composed of neuron cell
            f                  to the naked eye, and is
                                            eye
bodies, dendrites, and glial   made up of axons.
cells.
cells
Grey matter is where all the
                                           thinking happens This is your
                                                    happens.
                                              brain’s processing centre.




White matter, containing those
long axons, are like a super
highway. They transport
information to different parts
of your brain
        brain.



  Photo credit (CC 2.0): facemepls, MSVG
Proliferation: Grey Matter
                                        Grey matter develops
                                        G        tt d     l
                                        quickly during childhood,
                                        but slows during adolescence.




                                         Grey matter volume peaks
                                         at age 11 in girls and at
                                             g        g
                                         age 13 in boys.




                                         Then, the volume of grey
                                         matter begins to decline.
Lenroot & Giedd (2006)
Pruning: Grey Matter Maturation

   The maturation of grey matter is best described
    as a constant “push and pull”. New
    pathways grow, while others are pruned back.

   Pruning is greatly influenced by experience, so
    it really is a case of “use it or lose it”!
                                              !

   This makes the adolescent brain extremely
    versatile, and able to make changes
    depending on the demands of the environment
                                     environment.
Pruning: Grey Matter Maturation
           The brain matures in a back-to-front pattern. The frontal
                                                pattern
           & temporal lobes are the last to mature.

           Remember: the frontal lobe is the home of planning
                                                      planning,
           organization, judgment, impulse control and reasoning!




                                                                         mporal
       ontal




                                       Parietal
     Fro




                                                                       Tem
Lenroot & Giedd (2006)
Proliferation and Myelination: White matter


                                 White matter makes up myelin,
                                 which insulates axons and
                                 speeds up the communication
                                 between neurons.

                                 It develops continuously from
                             *   birth onwards, with a slight
                                 increase during puberty
                                                  puberty.
                         *       The increase occurs just after the
                                 peak in grey matter volume (around
                                 age 11 in girls* and around age 13
                                 in boys*).


Lenroot & Giedd (2006)
Say that again?!
            Teens show a consistent pattern
                of brain development.
                  f

White matter increases in a        Grey matter follows an upside-
 roughly linear pattern. The      down U shape. The pattern differs
pattern is similar in different      according to brain region
                                                        region.
       brain regions.



       White                            Grey
The Teen Brain is in a
Constant State of Development




And some areas of the brain
mature f t th others. The
   t    faster than th     Th
areas of your brain associated
with reward, motivation, and
     reward motivation
impulsivity matures early.       Photo credit (CC 2.0): Daniel Flower
The Teen Brain is in a
Constant State of Development

Your prefrontal cortex,
                 cortex
which thinks about things
logically,
logically weighs the pros
and cons, and restrains
y
you matures later. This
means teens can be more
prone to riskier and
impulsive behaviors, and
less likely to consider
consequences than an
adult would be.             Photo credit (CC 2.0): Alaskan Dude
Risk and Reward

                                  It’s not that teens are stupid,
                                 or have no control over their
                                 own brain. Studies have shown
                                 that teens know when they are
                                 engaging in risky behavior (like
                                 unprotected sex, drinking, or
                                 drugs). However they are more
                                 likely to think that the benefits of
                                 those behaviors outweigh any
                                 potential harm.


Reyna & Farley (2007)                               Photo credit (CC 2.0): winnifredxoxo
Risk and Reward


   It’s important to take a step
 back and realize that though not
 every risky choice will result in
 harm – some will. It’s not
 enough to know there’s risk, you
 need to also understand the
 consequences. It could impact                Playing Russian Roulette
 the rest of your life in a really            with one bullet is certainly
                                              much safer than playing it
 negative way.                                  with five. But should we
                                               really be playing it at all?



Reyna & Farley (2007)                                Photo credit (CC 2.0): Andres Bastidas
So how does the brain
mature after adolescence?

                                 There is evidence that these
                                 changes continue WELL
                                 after the teenage years.
                                  f


In a study of young adults, the frontal lobes
showed large changes up to the age of 30!

This suggests that frontal lobe maturation is
important for adult cognition.
                                                (Sowell et al., 1999; Sowell et al., 2001)
What does all this mean?


  It means huge advances
 have been made in studies
    of brain development.
                   p
BUT…
       BUT
  it is difficult to figure out
       exactly how these
  structural brain changes
relate to functional changes
 in cognition and behavior.
Hopefully, the answers to
these questions will come
within the next few years.
References
Giedd, J.N., Blumenthal, J Jeffries N O Castellanos F.X., Liu, H., Zijdenbos, A.,
Giedd J N Blumenthal J., Jeffries, N.O., Castellanos, F X Liu H Zijdenbos A
Paus, T., Evans, A.C., Rapoport, J.L. 1999. Brain development during childhood and
adolescence: A longitudinal MRI study. Nature Neuroscience. 2: 861-863.

Lenroot, R.K., Giedd, J.N. 2006. Brain development in children and adolescents:
Insights from anatomical magnetic resonance imaging. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral
Reviews. 30: 718-729.


Sowell, E.R., Thompson, P.M., Holmes, C.J., Jernigan, T.L., Toga, A.W. 1999. In vivo
evidence for post-adolescent brain maturation in frontal and striatal regions. Nature
Neuroscience. 859-861.
Neuroscience 2: 859-861

Sowell, E.R., Thompson, P.M., Toga, A.W. 2001. Mapping continued brain growth and
gray matter density reduction in dorsal frontal cortex: Inverse relationships during
postadolescent brain maturation. The Journal of Neuroscience. 21: 8819-8829.


Reyna, V. F.
Reyna V F and Farley F 2007 Is the teen brain too rational? Scientific American
                Farley, F. 2007.
Mind. 17: 58-65
Sun Life Financial Chair
In Adolescent Mental Health

     For more information visit


WWW.TEENMENTALHEALTH.ORG

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Everything you need to know about the Teen Brain

  • 1. Everything you need to know about the Teen Brain
  • 2. Significant brain growth and development occurs during adolescence and continues into the twenties adolescence, twenties. Some studies show that this growth and development extends to the age of 30! (Sowell et al., 1999; Sowell et al., 2001)
  • 3. Adolescent brain development can be divided into three processes: • Proliferation (rapid growth of brain matter and the formation of new connections within the brain) • Pruning (cutting away of unused or unimportant ti ) connections) • Myelination (insulating of brain pathways to make them faster and more stable) ) (Sowell et al., 1999; Sowell et al., 2001)
  • 4. Proliferation: Total brain volume By age 6, the brain is about 95% of its maximum size. * It reaches its maximum size at 11.5 years in g girls*, and at 14.5 years , y in boys*. (Giedd et al., 1999) * Boys brains are larger (on average) than girls brains. b i Lenroot & Giedd (2006)
  • 5. Remember… Maximum brain size does not mean maximum brain maturity! The brain continues to mature for at least another 10 years.
  • 6. Remember… And although boys brains are anatomically bigger than girls brains, size is not directly related to intelligence.
  • 7. The tissue of the brain can be divided into two types of matter, grey and white. These tissues grow and mature at diff ti d t t different rates. t t Grey matter looks grey to the naked eye. It is White matter looks white composed of neuron cell f to the naked eye, and is eye bodies, dendrites, and glial made up of axons. cells. cells
  • 8. Grey matter is where all the thinking happens This is your happens. brain’s processing centre. White matter, containing those long axons, are like a super highway. They transport information to different parts of your brain brain. Photo credit (CC 2.0): facemepls, MSVG
  • 9. Proliferation: Grey Matter Grey matter develops G tt d l quickly during childhood, but slows during adolescence. Grey matter volume peaks at age 11 in girls and at g g age 13 in boys. Then, the volume of grey matter begins to decline. Lenroot & Giedd (2006)
  • 10. Pruning: Grey Matter Maturation  The maturation of grey matter is best described as a constant “push and pull”. New pathways grow, while others are pruned back.  Pruning is greatly influenced by experience, so it really is a case of “use it or lose it”! !  This makes the adolescent brain extremely versatile, and able to make changes depending on the demands of the environment environment.
  • 11. Pruning: Grey Matter Maturation The brain matures in a back-to-front pattern. The frontal pattern & temporal lobes are the last to mature. Remember: the frontal lobe is the home of planning planning, organization, judgment, impulse control and reasoning! mporal ontal Parietal Fro Tem Lenroot & Giedd (2006)
  • 12. Proliferation and Myelination: White matter White matter makes up myelin, which insulates axons and speeds up the communication between neurons. It develops continuously from * birth onwards, with a slight increase during puberty puberty. * The increase occurs just after the peak in grey matter volume (around age 11 in girls* and around age 13 in boys*). Lenroot & Giedd (2006)
  • 13. Say that again?! Teens show a consistent pattern of brain development. f White matter increases in a Grey matter follows an upside- roughly linear pattern. The down U shape. The pattern differs pattern is similar in different according to brain region region. brain regions. White Grey
  • 14. The Teen Brain is in a Constant State of Development And some areas of the brain mature f t th others. The t faster than th Th areas of your brain associated with reward, motivation, and reward motivation impulsivity matures early. Photo credit (CC 2.0): Daniel Flower
  • 15. The Teen Brain is in a Constant State of Development Your prefrontal cortex, cortex which thinks about things logically, logically weighs the pros and cons, and restrains y you matures later. This means teens can be more prone to riskier and impulsive behaviors, and less likely to consider consequences than an adult would be. Photo credit (CC 2.0): Alaskan Dude
  • 16. Risk and Reward It’s not that teens are stupid, or have no control over their own brain. Studies have shown that teens know when they are engaging in risky behavior (like unprotected sex, drinking, or drugs). However they are more likely to think that the benefits of those behaviors outweigh any potential harm. Reyna & Farley (2007) Photo credit (CC 2.0): winnifredxoxo
  • 17. Risk and Reward It’s important to take a step back and realize that though not every risky choice will result in harm – some will. It’s not enough to know there’s risk, you need to also understand the consequences. It could impact Playing Russian Roulette the rest of your life in a really with one bullet is certainly much safer than playing it negative way. with five. But should we really be playing it at all? Reyna & Farley (2007) Photo credit (CC 2.0): Andres Bastidas
  • 18. So how does the brain mature after adolescence? There is evidence that these changes continue WELL after the teenage years. f In a study of young adults, the frontal lobes showed large changes up to the age of 30! This suggests that frontal lobe maturation is important for adult cognition. (Sowell et al., 1999; Sowell et al., 2001)
  • 19. What does all this mean? It means huge advances have been made in studies of brain development. p
  • 20. BUT… BUT it is difficult to figure out exactly how these structural brain changes relate to functional changes in cognition and behavior.
  • 21. Hopefully, the answers to these questions will come within the next few years.
  • 22. References Giedd, J.N., Blumenthal, J Jeffries N O Castellanos F.X., Liu, H., Zijdenbos, A., Giedd J N Blumenthal J., Jeffries, N.O., Castellanos, F X Liu H Zijdenbos A Paus, T., Evans, A.C., Rapoport, J.L. 1999. Brain development during childhood and adolescence: A longitudinal MRI study. Nature Neuroscience. 2: 861-863. Lenroot, R.K., Giedd, J.N. 2006. Brain development in children and adolescents: Insights from anatomical magnetic resonance imaging. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. 30: 718-729. Sowell, E.R., Thompson, P.M., Holmes, C.J., Jernigan, T.L., Toga, A.W. 1999. In vivo evidence for post-adolescent brain maturation in frontal and striatal regions. Nature Neuroscience. 859-861. Neuroscience 2: 859-861 Sowell, E.R., Thompson, P.M., Toga, A.W. 2001. Mapping continued brain growth and gray matter density reduction in dorsal frontal cortex: Inverse relationships during postadolescent brain maturation. The Journal of Neuroscience. 21: 8819-8829. Reyna, V. F. Reyna V F and Farley F 2007 Is the teen brain too rational? Scientific American Farley, F. 2007. Mind. 17: 58-65
  • 23. Sun Life Financial Chair In Adolescent Mental Health For more information visit WWW.TEENMENTALHEALTH.ORG