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Narrated PsychoSocial Lecture

A lecture for Moving Traditions' National Training Conferences. For more information, visit movingtraditions.org.

Moving Traditions

on 24 October 2013

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Transcript of Narrated PsychoSocial Lecture

Brains, Body and Behavior:
The Psycho-Social
Profile of Teens

Who are adolescents?
WHO definition: 10-19 years of age
In the U.S.,
the definition
is less than 10, and up to 28
3 Stages of

Transition from childhood to adulthood
The Gender Brain
The Brain
Raging Hormones
So now what?
The Need for Independence
The Need for Inclusion
Abstract Thinking
Imaginary Audience
Personal Fable
And the tree was happy
Testosterone Tsunami
Factors Leading to
Sleep Deprivation in Teens
Phones, televisions and computers, often in their rooms
Homework load
An early start time for school
CAFFEINE (think Red Bull, Monster, Mountain Dew)
Changed circadian rhythm
Energy surge in the evening
So WHY is sleep important?
Sleep deficit affects mood, ability to think, perform, learn new skills, and react appropriately
Increases risk of depression
Mimic symptoms of ADD
Affect ability to reach full potential
What can you do?
Educate parents and teens about the importance of sleep
Teach kids techniques for unwinding and relaxing, to help them fall asleep
Pre-Frontal Cortex
Frontal lobe development occurs in adolescence.
It isn't fully developed until age 20

The frontal lobe is responsible for:
set strategies and priorities
think through consequences
control impulse
focus attention
has an important role in self-awareness and understanding of other people
What does this mean?
Helps us better understand teen behavior that amazes/challenges us
REMEMBER: taking risks helps teens grow
Emphasizes the need for them to have rational adults in their lives
The Amygdala
The amygdala is where raw emotions such as fear and anger are generated.

From MRI studies, we know that adolescents use the amygdala more (gut responses) than the pre-frontal cortex
Teens approach things from the emotional part of their brain
Result: Teens are PRIMED for impulsivity, they are more spontaneous and less inhibited
So why is this important?
Imbalance between pre-frontal cortex and amygdala may produce teens' notorious tendencies to make bad decisions and take risks
Nucleus Accumbens
Located at the base of the forebrain
Related to reward seeking
For teens, an immature nucleus accumbens leads to preference for activities that require low effort but yield high excitement
Nucleus Accumbens Research
From a study by
Dr. Adriana Glavan at UCLA:
Brains of young kids: any sort of reward = thrilling
Adult brains: lit up according to size of reward
Teen brains: only lit up when the reward was big
Why is this important?
This reinforces what we know... that in an abstract situation, teens can evaluate a scenario. But in real-life circumstances, this rational part of the brain can get over-ridden.
What can you do?
Provide experiences that are safe AND rewarding
Understand that a lack of excitement/enthusiasm is developmental
Brain CEO:
not yet on board
Use It or Lose It
It may be that teens get a second wave of overproduction of gray matter, something that was only thought to happen in the first 18 months of life.

Following the overproduction, the brain undergoes a process called pruning, where neural connections that are not used wither away, while those that are used stay. Thus, the "USE IT OR LOSE IT" principle.
The pruning process makes the brain more efficient by strengthening the connections that are used most often

Our brains are built to be very adaptable during the teen years

Our brains are being hard-wired
in adolescence
Emphasizes the need
for engaging,
meaningful activities
2007 National Institute of Mental Health Study
The study demonstrated striking and consistent differences in the speed with which the brain matures. It also showed that boys' brains develop differently than girls' brains do.
If you teach the same subjects to girls and boys in the same way, then by the age of 12 or 14, you will have girls who think "geometry is tough" and boys who believe that "art and poetry are for girls."

There's Hope!
50% of teens say they trust their parents most for reliable and complete information about birth control. Only 12% say they trust a friend for such information.
Positive relationships or connectedness between parents and adolescents is linked to avoidance or lower use of alcohol, tobacco, and illicit drugs.
Two-thirds of teenagers ages 13-17 said that "upsetting their parents' respect" is one of the main reasons they refrain from smoking marijuana or using other drugs.
In addition, research shows that a meaningful and lasting connection with Judaism is not only valuable for its own sake, but also that connection to religious community correlates with higher grades, lower levels of drinking and drug use, and other dimensions of healthy development.
Teens need adults in their lives to help them navigate the world. While their brains are developing, they need the support of adults to help them solve problems, set limits, and make decisions.
They also need adults' unconditional love, compassion, and understanding, because they are going to make a lot of mistakes.
Estrogen stimulates growth of the womb and breast and determines the shape of the female figure by re-arranging the deposition of fat.
Estrogen has a profound impact on emotions
Estrogen promotes bodily growth, including secondary sex characteristics
and bones.
The Estrogen Fairy
81% of ten-year-old girls are afraid of being fat -- just when they are entering puberty and are filling out.
If testosterone were coffee, a 9-year-old boy would get the equivalent of about one cup a day. But by age 15,
it would be equal to
two GALLONS a day.
For a teen boy, the surge in testosterone make his brain's sexual pursuit circuits grow MORE THAN TWICE AS LARGE AS THOSE IN THE BRAINS OF GIRLS.
Sexual preoccupation is like a big screen TV at a sports bar... ALWAYS ON IN THE BACKGROUND.
This, coupled with the sexualized media they are plugged into, makes it very hard to concentrate on other things...
Rapid growth in height
Muscular growth
Hair growth (in new places!)
Voice changes
Changes in facial structure
Appearance of secondary sexual characteristics
Body Changes
Full transcript