Adolescenceis the stage in which a young person develops to become an adultsocially, physically, and hormonally. The development fromadolescence to adulthood is affected by numerous factors such asgender and genetics. However, the processes occurring in the braintriggers most behaviors elicited by persons moving from beingadolescents to young adults.
Duringadolescence, a person’s brain engages in the strengthening andconstruction of neurocircuitry and regional pathways, particularlythe cerebellum, parietal lobe, occipital lobe, and temporal lobe(Berger,2009). When a person is in the adolescent stage, the strengthening of theneurocircuitry enables him/her to multitask, solve problems, andprocess complex information. During this stage, the plasticity of thebrain is responsible for the development of lifelong interests andtalents. However, the prefrontal cortex tends to develop slower incomparison to other parts of the brain such as the limbic system.This is because the development from one stage to another occurs in aback-to-frontal pattern and this explains why the prefrontal contextis usually the last part of the brain to mature (Berger, 2009).Consequently, as an individual move from adolescence to adulthood,he/she tends to act impulsively instead of thoughtfully as a resultof the underdeveloped prefrontal context. Besides, teenagers haveless myelin (white matter) in their frontal lobes in comparison toadults. However, as teenager grows up his/her frontal lobes increasesits myelin content, and this facilitates better flow of informationfrom one part of the brain to the other (Berger, 2009).
Theother cause of the transformation that is experienced by adolescentsas they develop to become young adults is the neuronal changes in thebrain. These changes trigger the initiation of the process ofstabilization and elaboration of synaptic circuitry that is essentialfor the learning process. Additionally, these changes allow theadolescent to adapt or learn for him/her to become an independentadult. Besides, the changes enable a person going through thischange to acquire new cognitive abilities (Arainet al., 2013).
Additionally,as a person enters adolescence, he/she experiences increased dopaminelevels. Dopamine is a chemical that links actions to pressure.Consequently, an adolescent fails to find pleasure from activitiesthat he/she enjoyed when he/she was younger, and this result inhim/her engaging in riskier behaviors. However, a decrease in thelevels of dopamine help adolescents to learn from their experienceand desist from engaging in risky behavior, and this enables them totackle the complex challenges that come with being an adult(Arain et al., 2013).
Severalfactors affect the development of the brain during the adolescentstage, and they include drug abuse, trauma, chronic stress,sedentary lifestyles, and neurotic insults(Arain et al., 2013).Functions such as regulation of emotions, problem-solving, complexthinking, long-term thinking, and self-regulation require practicehence sedentary lifestyle may prevent a person from acquiring therelevant skills. Besides, synapses that are less frequently usedweaken and die off in a process referred to as pruning henceadolescent should be discouraged from living a sedentary life(Arain et al., 2013).Also, if adolescents are unable to overcome formal trauma, they failto make new neural connections. On the other hand, the use of drugssuch as marijuana impairs the development of functions such asdecision making, attention, memory, and learning. Lastly, encouragingchildren to be part of social groups with their peers helps themovercome chronic stress(Berger, 2009).
Inconclusion, adolescence is the second most important developmentalstage apart from childhood. During this stage, individuals undergotransformations that prepare them to the more challenging adult life. These transformations are caused by changes in the brain such as thedecrease in the dopamine chemicals, neuronal changes, and increase inthe white matter in the frontal love, among others. These changeshelp adolescent to solve complex problems, have long-term goals, anddelay their gratification once they became adults. To ensure thatadolescent successfully moves to adulthood, they should be encouragedto stay away from illegal drugs, avoid or manage chronic stress, andform strong social bonds.
Arain,M., Haque, M., Johal, L., Mathur, P., Nel, W., Rais, A., … &Sharma, S. (2013). Maturation of the adolescent brain. NeuropsychiatrDis Treat, 9,449-461.
Berger,K. S. (2009). Invitation to the Lifespan (2ndEd.). NewYork: Worth.