X Close

Events

Home

UCL events news and reviews

Menu

Untangling the teenage brain

Clare S Ryan15 September 2011

Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore is a cognitive neuroscientist who researches something many of us find mysterious – the teenage brain. She believes that our adolescent years are a period of great change in terms of brain activity and being able to untangle what is going on could have wide-ranging implications for education. I went along to her lecture at the British Science Festival to find out more.

An adult brainA newborn baby has nearly the same number of brain cells as an adult, an astounding 100 billion. The difference, as you might already know, are the connections between the nerve cells, or neurons, which change massively over the course of a person’s life.

(more…)

Why do YOUNG MINDS think the way they do?

Andrea Pochylova13 June 2011

Recently, there has been a negative vibe in society about teenagers supported by David Cameron’s comment on the broken society and its youth. For the question why do young people think the way they do, answers Sarah-Jayne Blakemore from  the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, who explained the changes in behaviour at Cheltenham Science Festival.

During the teenage years, the adolescent brain undergoes enormous development, particularly changes in white matter. White matter largely increases, while grey matter decreases. Sarah-Jane explains that during the adjustments (of proportion between the white and grey matter) the way an individual handles information changes, and with it perception of risk changes too.

She has done an experiment, where she measured how much risk people would take while playing videogames (car racing). The research has shown that teenagers chose to undertake risk much more than the other two studied groups (20–24 and 25–28 year olds). This phenomenon was especially visible in an environment where a couple of friends were watching; under peer pressure the youngest group (13–17) would choose to undertake the most risky situations.

Sarah-Jane and other speakers suggest that in our adult-oriented society, we should be less judgemental about the challenges of today’s Young Minds and rather support them and help them to achieve their true potentials.