Neuroscientists Make Huge Strides Toward Solving the Mysteries of the Teenage Brain

Neuroscientists fascinated by the teenage psyche have come together to publish a series of studies on what makes juveniles tick. Their findings reveal why teenage boys in particular act in such a risk-averse manner.

Neuroscientists Make Huge Strides Toward Solving the Mysteries of the Teenage Brain

While many parents have simply given up on trying to understand their teenagers, neuroscientists aren't ready to throw in the towel quite yet.


Adolescents have long fascinated neuroscience researchers. Their enigmatic brains and behavior often leave lasting impressions -- and not always good impressions -- on friends, family, and society. Teenage boys in particular are prone to risky and destructive behavior that must be fully understood before attempts are made to control or harness it. We profiled a study on the subject just a few months ago.

Pradeep Bhide, a professor at Florida State University, has assembled something resembling neuroscience's version of The Avengers to tackle the subject. From Science Daily:

"The result is a series of 19 studies that approached the question from multiple scientific domains, including psychology, neurochemistry, brain imaging, clinical neuroscience and neurobiology. The studies are published in a special volume of Developmental Neuroscience, 'Teenage Brains: Think Different?'"

Examples of studies within the volume include "Teens Impulsively React rather than Retreat from Threat" and "The Developmental Mismatch in Structural Brain Maturation during Adolescence," both of which can be read for free. The studies are categorized under three headings: Adolescent Brain Development, Drug Abuse in Adolescence, and Prenatal Drug Exposure.

Some of the findings are incredibly interesting. One study determined that teenage boys are almost entirely unphased by the threat of punishment and that using it as a deterrent is largely futile. Another found that a molecule necessary for producing fear in adult males exists in a much more inactive state in juveniles. 

Dr. Bhide explained to Science Daily what he hoped society could gain from "Teenage Brains: Think Different?":

"These studies attempt to isolate, examine and understand some of these potential causes of a teenager's complex conundrum. The research sheds light on how we may be able to better interact with teenagers at home or outside the home, how to design educational strategies and how best to treat or modify a teenager's maladaptive behavior." 

Keep reading at Science Daily

Here's the Table of Contents for "Teenage Brains: Think Different?"

Photo credit: auremar / Shutterstock

A brief history of human dignity

What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.

Credit: Benjavisa Ruangvaree / AdobeStock
Sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies
  • Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
  • That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
  • We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
Keep reading Show less

Astrophysicists: Gamma-ray jets exceed the speed of light

Scientists find that bursts of gamma rays may exceed the speed of light and cause time-reversibility.

An artist's drawing of a particle jet emanating from a black hole at the center of a blazar.

Credit: DESY, Science Communication Lab (used with permission by Astronomy Picture of the Day, which is co-managed by Robert Nemiroff at Michigan Tech).
Surprising Science
  • Astrophysicists propose that gamma-ray bursts may exceed the speed of light.
  • The superluminal jets may also be responsible for time-reversibility.
  • The finding doesn't go against Einstein's theory because this effect happens in the jet medium not a vacuum.
Keep reading Show less

Is free will an illusion?

Philosophers have been asking the question for hundreds of years. Now neuroscientists are joining the quest to find out.

Sponsored by John Templeton Foundation
  • The debate over whether or not humans have free will is centuries old and ongoing. While studies have confirmed that our brains perform many tasks without conscious effort, there remains the question of how much we control and when it matters.
  • According to Dr. Uri Maoz, it comes down to what your definition of free will is and to learning more about how we make decisions versus when it is ok for our brain to subconsciously control our actions and movements.
  • "If we understand the interplay between conscious and unconscious," says Maoz, "it might help us realize what we can control and what we can't."

The Arecibo telescope has collapsed: A look at its 57-year history

Puerto Rico's iconic telescope facilitated important scientific discoveries while inspiring young scientists and the public imagination.

The Arecibo radio telescope

Credit: dennisvdwater via Adobe Stock
Surprising Science
  • The Arecibo Observatory's main telescope collapsed on Tuesday morning.
  • Although officials had been planning to demolish the telescope, the accident marked an unceremonious end to a beloved astronomical tool.
  • The Arecibo radio telescope has facilitated many discoveries in astronomy, including the mapping of near-Earth asteroids and the detection of exoplanets.
Keep reading Show less
Technology & Innovation

DeepMind AI solves 50-year-old biology problem in breakthrough advance

The Google-owned company developed a system that can reliably predict the 3D shapes of proteins.

Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast