Why do teenagers seem so much more impulsive, so much less self-aware than grown-ups? Cognitive neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore compares the prefrontal cortex in adolescents to that of adults, to show us how typically “teenage” behavior is caused by the growing and developing brain.

Why you should listen to her:

Remember being a teenager? Rocked internally with hormones, outwardly with social pressures, you sometimes wondered what was going on in your head. So does Sarah-Jayne Blakemore. And what she and others in her field are finding is: The adolescent brain really is different.

New brain imaging research and clever experiments are revealing how the cortex develops — the executive part of the brain that handles things like planning, self-awareness, analysis of consequences and behavioral choices. It turns out that these regions develop more slowly during adolescence, and in fascinating ways that relate to risk-taking, peer pressure and learning.

Which leads to a bigger question: How can we better target education to speak to teenagers’ growing, changing brains?

“Sarah-Jayne Blakemore emphasises that learning must be seen as a life-long process.”

SuePalmer.co.uk