Biological Foundationsof Misconduct Missouri Juvenile Justice Conference October 2012 Special Thanks to: Dr. Barbara Sullivan (Utah Addiction Center) The Dana Foundation
The challenge of working with Adolescents • Parents and professional alike have been puzzled for years……… • Is this NORMAL teenage “baloney” or is it pathological?
Most common mistake? • Viewing Adolescents as small adults • Physical size • “Act your age” • Not only physical, emotional, moral social, but neurological
According to the CDC, 27,000 people between the ages of 10 and 24 die from bad decisions – primarily accidents, homicide, and suicide…… (Anderson & Smith (2005) . The adolescent years, in particular, are a period of heightened vulnerability to reckless behavior that occurs despite the fact that adolescents are more cognitively mature than children………. (Spear 2000).
Actuarial tables indicate that adolescents and young adults are more likely to drive recklessly and are more likely to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs………… (Arnett J , 1993). Viewed in hindsight, many of these adverse outcomes seem to be a result of a poor decision. Although nobody is immune from making bad decisions, adolescents and young adults seem to make a disproportionate share of ultimately fatal or debilitating ones; indeed, bad decisions are the greatest cause of morbidity and mortality in adolescents. (Berns, Moore & Capra, 2009)
Earliest attempts to explain behavior of human beings………….. Demonology Trephaning
PossessionThe notion that psychopathology was caused by a possession of a spirit or god was a prevailing theory of mental illness throughout history.
DEMONOLOGICAL MODELThe demonological model, as an explanation of psychopathology, has existed since the beginnings of humanity. …..the causes of mental illness are due to "spirits" entering the body and causing the host to becomepossessed.
The cure would be to release the spirit from the individual. The methods for this were accomplished in several different ways includingtrephaning,exorcism , and a number of purgative techniques , that would make the host's body unpleasant for the spirit.
Trephaning was a technique used even in the prehistoric period. A small round hole in the skull would be made in order that the evil spirits could be released. Ironically, this technique could have been successful for certain kinds of psychopathology……….…
The hole in the skull would have reduced the pressure on the brain caused by edema, or swelling, eliminating the peculiar behavior, or "releasing the spirit".
Biological roots Hippocrates “Humours”….(humors) Chemical imbalance
The Greek physician Hippocrates, c. 460 - 377 B.C, is often called the “father of medicine”. Perhaps the most important idea associated with Hippocrates is that of relying on facts, clinical observation and experiment.
HIPPOCRATES AND THE BIOLOGICAL MOVEMENT Hippocrates had the notion that psychopathology was due to disturbances within the balances of the four humours.
The Four Humors consisted of BLOOD, PHLEGM, YELLOW BILE and BLACK BILE, that are produced by several organs throughout the body.
Diseases were caused by the over or under manufacturing of one of these substances causing disharmony.
Perspectives Today we have several perspectives as ways of explaining human behavior Psychology has multiple theories of explanation: Biological Psychodynamic Behavioral Humanistic Cognitive Evolutionary
Biological Perspective Study the physiological mechanisms in the brain and nervous system that organize and control behavior Focus may be at various levels individual neurons areas of the brain specific functions like eating, emotion, or learning Interest in behavior distinguishes biological psychology from many other biological sciences
The Human Brain Weighing roughly three pounds, the human brain is about the size of a small cauliflower. Although your brain makes up only about 2 percent of your total body weight, it uses some 20 percent of the oxygen your body needs while at rest. The oxygen is used in breaking down glucose to supply the brain with energy.
BRAIN FACTS Brain weighs approximately 3 pounds Brain has approximately 100 billion neurons and 1 trillion supporting cells Neurons grow and organize themselves into efficient systems that operate a lifetime Brain controls ALL activities Emotion and cognition are intertwined Neurons can re-route circuits Brain and environment involved in delicate duet Brain never stops adapting and changing
CHALLENGE OF UNDERSTANDING THE BRAIN What is the link between the anatomy of a brain and the workings of the mind—our thoughts, emotions, memories, and behaviors? There are no moving parts—it does not operate mechanically as our hearts, legs, hands, and lungs do.
Focus • “White Matter” • Frontal Cortex • Caudate nucleus • Limbic System • Amygdala
Two Major Developmental Periods of Brain • First 3 years of life • Second burst about 11 for girls and 12 for boys • Shaping White Matter • Full development about 25
Brain size does not equal intellectual or emotional maturity Although the brain is 80 percent developed at adolescence, research indicates that brain signals essential for motor skills and emotional maturity are the last to extend to the brain’s frontal lobe, which is responsible for many of the skills essential for driving.
Gray matter: areas of the nervous system where the nerve fibers are unmyelinated White Matter: areas of the nervous system composed mostly of myelinated nerve fibers (those having myelin sheaths) constituting the conducting portion of the brain and spinal cord.
White matter contains the protein myelin, which coats neurons' spindly axons as they reach toward other areas of the brain. Myelin is important for efficient signaling between neurons, and it is known to grow considerably between childhood and adulthood. The Myelin Sheath of a neuron consists of fat-containing cells that insulate the axon from electrical activity.
When adults reach age 20, white matter begins to spread, from the back of the brain forward, usually completing this process between 25 and 30 years of age.
One of the most familiar “white matter deficiency” diseases………….Multiple Sclerosis
Researchers have found a connection between increased white matter and reduced impulsivity Young people whose brains mature early might be more prone to engage in adult activities and choices.
White matter of a 20-year-old man contains a staggering 176,000 km of myelinated axons (Marner et al., 2003). Axons ensure smooth communication throughout the brain in two important ways: by conducting electrical impulses and by transporting various molecules and organelles from the cell body to the synapse (Barry et al., 2007).
Hence, the importance of maturational changes in white matter (WM) during childhood and adolescence for the child's cognitive development and mental health Perrin, Herve, Leonard, et al……2008
"White matter is composed of bundles of myelinated axons connecting grey matter areas of the brain, and has been shown to continue to develop throughout adolescence. These systematic changes in white matter organization reflect not only maturation of interconnections but continued maturation of the brain as a whole." "White matter, and its integrity, are essential to the efficient relay of information within the brain…………
"Indicators of white matter integrity are linked to performance on a range of cognitive tests, including measures of reading, copying complex figures, and speeded coding of information. Abnormalities in white matter health could relate to compromised ability to consider multiple sources of information when making decisions, and to emotional functioning." Susan F. Tapert, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California
The white matter revelation has led some safety experts to suggest raising the minimum driving age to 18. But others have said this is an unnecessary change that would place an undue burden on parents. What’s more common is a push for the implementation of stricter graduated licensing laws, which would impose a multi-tiered licensing system to ease teenagers in to the responsibilities of driving without a parent in the car.
"Use it or lose it" principle Dr. Jay Giedd Those cells and connections that are used will survive and flourish. Those cells and connections that are not used will wither and die. So if a teen is doing music or sports or academics, those are the cells and connections that will be hard-wired. If they're lying on the couch or playing video games or MTV, those are the cells and connections that are going to survive.
The brain undergoes a significant structural re-modeling process which includes a substantial increase in white matter, and an overall decrease in grey matter attributable to the activity-dependent process of synaptic pruning. Tom Wasiuta
-In many ways adolescence is the healthiest time of life. The immune system, resistance to cancer, tolerance for heat and cold and several other variables are at their peak. -Despite physical strengths, however, illness and mortality increase 200 percent to 300 percent. -As of 2005, the most recent year for which statistics are available, motor vehicle accidents, the No. 1 cause, accounted for about half of deaths. Nos. 2 and 3 were homicide and suicide. Jay N. Giedd, M.D. , National Institute of Mental Health.
Maturation of the Prefrontal Cortex • The prefrontal cortex is often referred to as the “CEO of the brain.” • This brain region is responsible for cognitive analysis and abstract thought, and the moderation of “correct” behavior in social situations.
“Executive functions” of the human prefrontal cortex include: • Focusing attention • Organizing thoughts and problem solving • Foreseeing and weighing possible consequences of behavior • Considering the future and making predictions • Forming strategies and planning • Ability to balance short-term rewards with long term goals
Shifting/adjusting behavior when situations change • Impulse control and delaying gratification • Modulation of intense emotions • Inhibiting inappropriate behavior and initiating appropriate behavior • Simultaneously considering multiple streams of information when faced with complex and challenging information U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
FRONTAL LOBE Seat of personality, judgment, reasoning, problem solving, and rational decision making Provides for logic, understanding of consequences, and emotional/behavioral regulation Governs impulsivity, aggression, ability to organize thoughts, and plan for the future Controls capacity for abstraction, attention, cognitive flexibility, and goal persistence Undergoes significant changes during adolescence — not fully developed until mid20’s (Giedd, 2002)