Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Does Studying for a Phd in Economics Retard Development...

...of the brain's prefrontal cortex? Given the temper tantrums being thrown recently about such diverse problems as Social Security reform and voting in Iraq, the inquiring minds on the FLUBA Committee on Mental Health and the Academy read this with interest:

Psychologist David Walsh has written a book, "Why Do They Act That Way?" (Free Press), that offers an up-to-date explanation of the biological reasons for teens' behavior and offers parents tips to communicate and stay connected with the kids.

Walsh, who is president and founder of the National Institute on Media and the Family, in Minneapolis, says parents often think kids are deliberately misinterpreting situations or trying to drive their parents crazy, but this isn't the case.

It's because a teenager's prefrontal cortex — the brain's center for moderation, impulse-control and the understanding of consequences — is still under construction. Simultaneously the body's hormones — which Walsh calls the accelerator center of the brain — are surging.

"The prefrontal cortex is supposed to harness the accelerator center of the brain, but the impulse-control center is under construction," said Walsh. "This is the reason teens are impulsive, risk-taking, quick to anger. The acceleration center of the brain is in high gear, while the brakes are on back order."

Leading to serial head banging?

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