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  • Adolescence/Puberty
  • It's called puberty. 
  • Wow Lisa, you sure have grown since the last time I saw you. What's changed?
  • Selective Pruning 
  • Myelin
  • Adolescence begins with puberty, the time we mature sexually. Puberty follows a surge of hormones, which may intensify moods and which trigger a series of bodily changes. 
  • Frontal Lobe 
  • Until puberty, brain cells increase their connections, like trees growing more roots and branches. Then, during adolescence comes a selective pruning of unused neurons and connections
  • Thrill Seekers
  • Hey! Get out of the way!
  • The growth of myelin, the fatty tissue that speeds neurotransmission, enables better communication with other brain regions. These developments bring improved judgment, impulse control, and long-term planning.
  • Death Penalty
  • Maturation of the frontal lobes lags behind that of the emotional limbic system. Puberty’s hormonal surge and limbic system development help explain teens’ occasional impulsiveness, risky behaviors, and emotional storms. 
  • Teens, when reasoning from their gut, weigh the immediate benefits more heavily. They seek thrills and rewards, but they can’t yet locate the brake pedal controlling their impulses.
  • In 2004, the U.S. Supreme Court briefs argued against the death penalty for 16- and 17-year-olds. The briefs documented the teen brain’s immaturity “in areas that bear upon adolescent decision making.”
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