The prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain just behind the forehead, allows the coordination of thoughts and behaviours to achieve goals. During adolescence, considerable structural change happens to the brain. In the grey matter, there is synaptic pruning, whereby the connections between neurons which are infrequently used are eliminated. This means a reduction in grey matter, which occurs last in the prefrontal cortex and temporal cortex. At the same time, the connections which are used frequently are strengthened. In the white matter, tracts that connect neurons and brain regions to each other, become myelinated. Myelination is a process through which myelin, a fatty substance, covers and insulates neuronal axons to increase the speed of travelling signals. These changes lead to more efficient functioning of the prefrontal cortex and allows it to communicate faster with other brain regions.
Click on the topics below to find out more about the science in the film.
Sleep *** Hormonal Changes *** Prefrontal Changes
Inhibitory Control *** Mental Time Travel *** Limbic Changes
Sensation Seeking *** Risk taking *** Social Development
Theories of Adolescence *** Evolution *** Mental Health
Neuroconstructivism *** Educational Neuroscience
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