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The Teenage Brain Survival Guide: A Neuroscientist's Book Review

The Teenage Brain: A neuroscientist’s survival guide to raising adolescents and young adults – by Dr. Frances Jensen

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We realize that we probably have more grandparents of teenagers than parents of teenagers here, but most of us have at least some teenage relative(s). Which makes this book interesting.

There are a lot of myths about the teenage brain, and a lot of popular assumptions that usually have some basis in fact but are often misleading.

Dr. Jensen gives us a strong foundational grounding in the neurophysiology of adolescence, from the obvious-but-often-unclear (such as the role of hormones) to less-known things like the teenage brain’s general lack of myelination. Not just “heightened neuroplasticity” but, if you imagine the brain as an electrical machine, then think of myelin as the insulation between the wires. Little wonder some wires may get crossed sometimes!

She also talks about such things as the teenage circadian rhythm’s innate differences, the impact of success and failure on the brain, and harder topics such as addiction—and the adolescent cortisol functions that can lead to teenagers needing to seek something to relax in the first place.

In criticism, we can only say that sometimes the author makes sweeping generalizations without acknowledging such, but that doesn’t detract from what she has to say on the topic of neurophysiology.

Bottom line: if there’s a teenager in your life whose behavior and/or moods are sometimes baffling to you, and whose mysteries you’d like to unravel, this is a great book.

Click here to check out the Teenage Brain, and better understand those around you!

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