Is teen behavior a product of biology, culture, or both?
A new article by Robert Epstein in Scientific American Mind sets out to dispel the myth that the teen brain is rooted in turmoil. Historically, teenagedom is a relatively recent invention. Epstein claims that in the past, teens did not act quite so out of control, and suggests that behavioral problems are influenced not just by the physical changes that are part of the brain’s lifelong growth and evolution, but are impacted (more?) by chemical, electrical or anatomical properties in the brain.
As someone who has been very supportive of the work and theories of doctors like Jay Giedd, I’m taking this article with a grain of salt. Perhaps it’s true that we can’t make generalizations based solely on brain scans, but regardless of whether you believe biology or culture play the larger role in teen behavior, the conclusion rings true that teens have the potential to perform in exemplary ways, and it’s all about giving them support and options. And, when we treat teens with respect and set high expectations, they almost always rise to the challenge.
I am adding this article to the Syllabus for my Pain in the Brain class, offered through YALSA for the month of July. If you haven’t already registered, please sign up at:
I am finalizing my syllabus (just need to verify all the links work!) for release on Monday June 4.
Epstein, Robert. “The Myth of the Teen Brain.” Scientific American Mind, April 8 2007.