The Adolescent Brain: Still GROWING! Gretchen Miller EDFS 377 July 15, 2009
Brain Development Facts: • Age 0-2: brain TRIPLES in size and weight, huge buildup of neural connections • The Terrible Twos: massive pruning of neural connections and brain reorganization from 18 – 24 months
Brain Development • The (Sometimes) Terrible Teens: Neural connection growth spurt + massive pruning and reorganization = sometimes erratic behavior, mood swings, disorganization, lack of control of emotions • Not fully developed until age 25!
Prefrontal Cortex: Executive Functioning • Reasoning, Decision making, Problem Solving, Creative Thinking, Goal Setting, Prioritizing, Judgment, Planning, Organization, Self-Control, Impulse Inhibition, Emotional Control, Understanding Cause and Effect
Basic Neuron Anatomy • 100,000,000,000 neurons • 10,000 connections per neuron • 1,000,000,000,000,000 a thousand trillion connections!
Neural Connections • Every fact we know, every idea we hold, every action we take IS a network of neurons in our brain.
Adolescent Brain Change #1 • Neural connection growth spurt during puberty, peaking at age 11 (F) and age 12 (M)
#1 Increasing Neural Connections Learning is PHYSICAL New neural connections are being created and strengthened everyday at school and at home
Adolescent Brain Change #2 • Massive pruning of extraneous neural connections, similar to the Terrible Twos • Another PHYSICAL change in the learner’s brain
Adolescent Brain Change #3 • Major spurts in myelination in the temporal, parietal, and frontal lobes.
Well ok, what is myelination? • MYELIN is a fatty substance (glial cells) that coats the axon and speeds up the electrical impulses between neurons, up to 100X faster. • Myelination appears to occur in waves from birth to age 25 and beyond. • Brain scans show more myelin in the frontal lobes of adults than in teens.
Adolescent Change #4 • The cerebellum continues to grow and develop
Cerebellum • Controls movement and physical coordination • Also controls mental coordination: the ability to coordinate many different intellectual processes • The cerebellum is still growing and developing in adolescent brains!
Emotion • Be aware of the power of emotion in the adolescent brain • The frontal cortex (reasoning, decision making, judgment, self-control, impulse inhibition, and emotional control) is still developing
Suggestions for Parents and Teachers • Ensure 8 – 10 hours of sleep each night to support a growing and developing brain!
Suggestions for Parents and Teachers • Provide and schedule TV-free down time to allow for rest, reflection, and consolidation of learning
Suggestions for Parents and Teachers • Daily aerobic exercise enhances neuron growth and improves memory and attention span • Encourage your child to join a sports team every season, join the local gym together, and support family exercise activities (hiking, biking, jogging)
Suggestions for Parents and Teachers • Do what you can to reduce stress at home • Chronic stress can affect memory, cognition, and social skills.
Suggestions for Parents and Teachers • What you eat affects your brain! • Model and encourage healthy eating with your teen! • Nutrition affects memory, cognition, and attention span
Suggestions for Parents and Teachers • Support music, arts, and P.E. programs at school and at home to engage the visual and auditory cortexes.
Works Cited • Jensen, E. (2008). A Fresh Look at Brain-Based Education. Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 89, No.6. • Medina, J. (2009). Brain Rules. Pear Press. http://www.brainrules.net/ • Ratey, J. (2008). Spark. Little, Brown. http://www.johnratey.com/newsite/index.html • Sousa, D. (2006). How the Brain Learns. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. • Willis, J. (2008). Building a Bridge From Neuroscience to The Classroom. Phi Delta Kappan, February 2008. 424 – 427. • Willis, J. (n.d.) Reach And Discover (R.A.D.). Retrieved May 19, 2009, from http://www.radteach.com/ • Wolfe, P. (n.d.) Mind Matters. Retrieved July 15, 2009, from www.patwolfe.com • Zull, J., (2002). The Art of Changing the Brain. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.