I think, therefore I am (Cogito, ergo sum.) - Descartes
I think, therefore I am (Cogito, ergo sum.) - Descartes
I have never let my schooling interfere with my education - Mark Twain
Before you become too entranced with gorgeous gadgets and mesmerizing video displays, let me remind you that information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other, and we need them all. - Arthur C. Clarke
Creative thinking may mean simply the realization that there's no particular virtue in doing things the way they have always been done. - Rudolph Flesch
|The Teenage Brain
Look at the picture. What emotion do you see in this woman's face? Hold that thought and read on...
We used to think that teens respond differently to the world because of hormones, or attitude, or because they simply need independence. But when adolescents' brains are studied through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), we see that they actually work differently than adult brains.
At the McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., Deborah Yurgelun-Todd and a group of researchers have studied how adolescents perceive emotion as compared to adults. The scientists looked at the brains of 18 children between the ages of 10 and 18 and compared them to 16 adults using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Both groups were shown pictures of adult faces and asked to identify the emotion on the faces. Using fMRI, the researchers could trace what part of the brain responded as subjects were asked to identify the expression depicted in the picture.
The results surprised the researchers. The adults correctly identified the expression as fear. Yet the teens answered "shocked, surprised, angry." And the teens and adults used different parts of their brains to process what they were feeling. The teens mostly used the amygdala, a small almond shaped region that guides instinctual or "gut" reactions, while the adults relied on the frontal cortex, which governs reason and planning.
As the teens got older, the center of activity shifted more toward the frontal cortex and away from the cruder response of the amygdala. Brains grow and mature.
Researchers have found that in an area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex (see picture at right,) the brain appeared to be growing again just before puberty. The prefrontal cortex sits just behind the forehead. It is particularly interesting to scientists because it acts as the CEO of the brain, controlling planning, working memory, organization, and modulating mood. As the prefrontal cortex matures, teenagers can reason better, develop more control over impulses and make judgments better. In fact, this part of the brain has been dubbed "the area of sober second thought."
Researchers are discovering
surprising differences between the brains of adults and those of
teenagers -- differences that have begun to explain at least some of
the differences in the way these two groups think. It's not JUST a
matter of a maturing brain that teens have to deal with. One aspect
of the teenage way of life may affect the moods, actions, and
potential of young people just as much if not more than brain
anatomy: lack of sleep.
Students in the U.S. rank highest or among the top four countries in prevalence of stomachache, backache, headache, difficulty sleeping, feeling tired in the morning and feeling low at least once a week.
More than 40 percent of U.S. females report backaches or stomachaches at least weekly; 57 percent report equally frequent headaches. Almost half of U.S. girls and one-third of boys report feeling low once a week or more. More than one-fourth of both girls and boys report having sleep difficulties at least once a week.
Relatively high reporting of medication use by U.S. students for headache, stomachache, and difficulty sleeping support the reports of elevated U.S. levels of physical symptoms.
Adolescence is generally considered a time of good health; levels of illness and chronic disease are generally low, and injuries present the greatest threat to adolescents' health.
However, how students feel on a daily basis, both physically and psychologically, may directly affect the success of their transition through adolescence. Their perceptions of health, self-confidence and satisfaction with life reflect the level of biological and psychosocial stress and anxiety that they experience.
--U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration. U.S. Teens in Our World Rockville, Maryland: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2003
Brain Injury Challenge
My dear students: I have news for you, injuries present the greatest threat to your health. Injury in the form of ill advised behavior on a skateboard, in a car, while at a party, or while doing things that you've done all your life without even thinking. Do you wear a helmet when you ride your bike or roller blade? Then you already know that a helmet is a good way to avoid hurting your head. Head injuries are a kind of trauma, which is a medical term for any major injury to the body resulting from accident or violence.
Julie arrives by ambulance after being in a car accident. She's complaining that she can't feel anything in her lower body. What part of the body may Julie have injured?
Jackie fell down the stairs and hurt her head. She has difficulty explaining what happened because she has trouble forming simple sentences. What part of the brain may Jackie have injured?
Nathan hurt his head while falling off his bike a few days ago. He was wearing a helmet, but didn't have it on properly (it wasn't covering his forehead). His parents tell you he "just doesn't seem to be the Nathan we know." "He's been shy and quiet since the accident—before he was bubbly and outgoing." What part of the brain may Nathan have injured?