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Misunderstood Teenager

Have you ever wondered why teenagers are known to act out? A study done at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York city proved that teenagers are more likely to act impulsively in a fight or flight situation. The experiment was done with 83 different people with ages ranging from 6-29. The people aged 13-17 were more likely to impulsively push a button they weren’t supposed to then any other age group. Why? Scientists came to the conclusion that the orbital frontal cortex peaked in teenage brains when they did not push the button–which suggested that this region controls the impulse to react.

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 11.54.58 PM

taken by: bottled_void
license: Attribution License

During adolescence, the teenage brain undergoes its second “pruning process“, which directly explains the findings of the scientists at Weill Cornell Medical College. Before puberty, the teenage brain has a huge growth spurt in the frontal lobe which deals with planning, impulse control, and reasoning. The adolescent brain is not used to the new things it can do because it is learning–which is why teenagers tend to act out and not make the correct decisions.


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  1. danasaurus

    Great article! It is interesting that we probably experienced or will experience this huge growth spurt in the frontal lobe. I found this article that shares a personal story from Frances Jensen. Her son went through the adolescent stage where he made bad decisions but then grew out of it. Here it is:

  2. segolene

    Very good article! The development of the brain is surely a crucial part to the maturing process in a teenager. It was interesting to read that the frontal lobe goes through a growth spurt and that the brain as a whole goes through a pruning process. The brain is certainly an important organ, as it serves as the control center, receiving, interpreting, and directing sensory information throughout the body. Do you think that a series of events in a teenager’s life could, along with the brain, be the explanation to why teenagers tend to act out or make incorrect decisions? Check out theses sites about the brain and its function in adolescents:,

  3. rmelman

    Interesting, I always wondered why us teens act out against authority! When do teenagers grow out of the pruning process?

    Here is another article about adolescents and impulse control.

  4. biolivcious

    Great post! I find this interesting because I wonder if the frontal lobe is stimulated in peer pressure situations causing teens to make bad decisions, it would be an interesting study to see if said situations triggered a sort-of fight or flight response as teens made considerations they know are incorrect. Here is an interesting article on why peer pressure is so effective in causing poor decision making:

  5. orsbio

    This is such an interesting post as it pertains to all of us! I didn’t know that the location of our impulse control, reasoning, and planning was in the frontal lobe due to this “growth spurt”! This article I’ve linked extrapolates on points you’ve made, but discusses a different experiment in which an adolescent’s temper and behavior was measured:

  6. celine2

    This is interesting to read! After a little bit of research, here is the experiment that your article was based on:

    Here is a study before this experiment, that also confirmed this hypothesis:

  7. rubinka

    Good job em83! It’s interesting how you related the more psychological findings of the top half of your post with the more technical bottom half of the article on the frontal lobe.
    The national institute of mental health also has an article about this topic- take a look at it here.

  8. katnizz

    Wow this is really interesting and relatable! this got me thinking and eventually led me to researching more on the topic. Here is a link that discusses in detail 5 major reasons why teenagers act out!
    Its really interesting!

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