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Development of the Teenage Brain

By Suparna Choudhury, Tony Charman and Sarah Jane Blakemore


Adolescence is a time characterised by change - hormonally, physically and mentally. We now know that some brain areas, particularly the frontal cortex, continue to develop well beyond childhood. There are two main changes with puberty. Firstly, there is an increase in axonal myelination, which increases transmission speed. Secondly, there is a gradual decrease in synaptic density, indicating significant pruning of connections. These neural changes make it likely that cognitive abilities relying on the frontal cortex, such as executive functions and social cognitive abilities, also change during adolescence. Here we review recent research that has demonstrated development during adolescence of a variety of social cognitive abilities and their neural correlates

Year: 2008
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