When Does A Brain Fully Develop?
The Mayo Clinic refers to the brain as the most complex organ in the human body. As is true with all aspects of development and maturation, there are typical timeframes, and stages at which various thresholds and milestones are commonly reached regarding one’s brain. While the teenage brain goes through various transformations during adolescence, are several areas of a teenage brain that have yet to develop. A person’s brain will not reach its full development until age twenty-five, at the earliest. Let’s take a closer look at is the inner workings of the teenage brain.
Pre-frontal Cortex and Amygdala
The pre-frontal cortex is the area of the brain that governs one’s reasoning, ability to problem-solve, plan, and control impulses. When the frontal cortex is fully developed it helps a person think before he or she acts. The pre-frontal cortex also happens to be one of the last areas of the brain that develops, often continuing to change and mature well into adulthood. Therefore, a teenager must rely on the amygdala to solve problems and make decisions. The amygdala is the area of the brain that is associated with emotions, instinctive behavior, impulsivity, and aggression. It is also where emotions are given meaning, remembered, and stored. The amygdala is also responsible for activating the fight-flight response when feeling threatened and/ or afraid. Because the teenage pre-frontal cortex is underdeveloped, teenagers innately make decisions from an emotional standpoint, as they are processed through the amygdala.
Frontiers In Psychology defines neuroplasticity as “a general umbrella term that refers to the brain’s ability to modify, change, and adapt both structure and function throughout life and in response to experience.” Hence, the brain is a continuously evolving organ. Even when all areas of a brain have fully developed, its growth and maturation does not cease to continue. Neural pathways are developed through synaptic connections that occur in one’s brain, directly resulting from a person’s habits and behaviors. These connections create a map of a myriad of circuits within one’s brain, influenced by outside stimuli, enabling the brain to process various experiences, and are essential in how the brain retains and accesses information. Neural pathways strengthen with repetition and can similarly become obsolete without repetition.
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