Why Teenagers Make Terrible Decisions


  • Sydney Sharp McMaster


As teenage brains mature, neurological changes occur which alter overall brain function, including the decision-making process. These changes result in potentially riskier decisions being made by teenagers, due to the fact that their long-term planning skills are impacted. Teenagers rely on both the limbic system and frontal cortex to make decisions, among other brain structures. The limbic system fully matures first, as it resides in the back of the brain where the maturation begins. This leads to teenagers favouring situations that offer immediate benefits. The gap in development between the now-adult limbic system and still-maturing frontal cortex results in an inevitable period of risk for teenagers. During teenage years the frontal cortex cannot properly contribute to the decison making process, leading to less thought obout future consequences of actions. However, after puberty, the brain finishes developing and the frontal cortex is able to work with the limbic system to produce improved decision making. 





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