7 Ways A Teen Brain Is Totally Different Than An Adult One

It’s really easy to feel like we have it all figured out when we’re a teen. Our body is becoming adult-like, we’ve put away some childish things, and we have a mind of our own. In a lot of ways, this is true. Yes, our bodies mature, we are less inclined to watch Nick Jr., and we are slowly but surely coming into our own. But let’s be real: We think we know ourselves and the world around us a lot more than we really do when we’re teenagers. I don’t say this to lecture, I say this because not so long ago I was that teen. We all are at some point. But the fact is that thanks to that brain we have lodged in our head, we’ve got a lot of growing up to do. This is more than being responsible enough to drive a car or go to a concert by yourself. Our brains straight up just aren’t fully developed when we’re teenagers!

You might already know this if you’ve ever watched a single episode of Law and Order where a teenager commits a crime; his lawyers always try to use brain development as a defense. It might seem like a cop out, but science backs it up. Does the average teen know the difference between right and wrong? Sure. Do they fully understand the consequences of their actions, whether it’s risky behavior or neglecting to study for a test. According to science, nah, not so much. Check out these seven interesting facts about teen brains versus adult brains and get ready for some rude awakenings and a couple of pleasant surprises too; yeah, teen brains do have something going for them, read on to find out what it is.

Teen Brains Make Teens More Prone To Doing Stupid Things

Teens are known for risk taking, acting reckless, being self-centered...but brain development explains this behavior perfectly. See, the brain develops from the back to the front. The lobes in the back primarily dictate our most basic functions, including our emotions. Meanwhile, the front bit (the frontal cortex) is the powerhouse for problem solving and judgement calls. That's why the older we get, the better we are at making rational decisions and thinking about the consequences of our actions.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Only 80 Percent Of A Teen Brain Is Fully Developed

Is your brain magically fully developed when we turn 18-years-old? Nope. Actually, our brains are still developing well into our mid-20s. That means that your brain isn't fully developed at 17-years-old, but it isn't at 23-years-old either, despite societal standards to the contrary.


Teen Brains Have A Harder Time Identifying The Emotions Of Others'

One landmark study indicated that teens are pretty crap at reading adults' expressions, and really good at getting emotional af and overreacting about their interpretations. This could explain a lot of the miscommunication that goes on between us and our parents and teachers when we're teens. While the results of of this study have been questioned in recent years, I can personally say that I'm a lot better at reading people now than I was when I was a teen, and I'm way less likely to have an overly emotional response when my parents and I get into a tiff. But, hey, that's just me.


You're More Likely To Be Influenced By Your Peers

I know, peer pressure is such a played out phrase that has become the boogieman of literally every teen narrative ever, but its origins begin up there in your brain. Yep, as a teen you're way more susceptible to changing your behavior for other people. When your brain develops more, it becomes a lot less concerned about that. So, if you hate the fact that you really care about what that cool girl in art class thinks of you, don't worry, you'll care less...eventually.


Adults Use More Parts Of Their Brains Than Teens Do

So, the brain is made up of a lot of bits and pieces, with sections that are more dedicated to emotion, cognitive ability, motor skills, decision making, judgements, etc. Adults are really good at utilizing multiple parts of their brain when they encounter a challenge. Teens? Er, not so much.

Freaks And Geeks

Teen Brains Respond Totally Differently To Drugs And Alcohol

Teen brains are like computers that are slowly but surely getting rewired. They love learning new things! Unfortunately, sometimes those new things they love to learn about are pretty crappy to their health and wellbeing. For example: Drugs and alcohol. Look, I'm not saying that smoking a joint is going to ruin your brain forever, neither is having a drink. But teen brains are more prone to habit forming, so it gets used to doing drugs a lot, or drinking a lot. That's why teens are a lot more vulnerable to addiction than adults are.

The O.C.

Your Teen Years Are The Best Time For Your Brain To Learn New Things

Teen brains aren't all bad! In fact, your teen years are the best time to learn a new skill and soak up as much information as possible. Of course, you should (and will) learn more the older you get, but your cognitive skills and memory go downhill as early as your '20s. So, next time you get frustrated that your mom and dad keep asking you to help the out with their cell phones...remember that.

Moonrise Kingdom

Are any of these facts surprising to you? Or was, “Truuuuu…” your general reaction to these facts? Tell us in the comments!

You can follow the author, Ashley Reese, on Twitter or Instagram. Don’t worry, she doesn’t bite!


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