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Summary &Study Guide
A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults
Title: Summary & Study Guide - The Teenage Brain
Subtitle: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults
Author: Lee Tang
Publisher: LMT Press (lmtpress.wordpress.com)
Copyright © 2018 by Lee Tang
All rights reserved. Aside from brief quotations for media coverage and reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced or distributed in any form without the author’s permission. Thank you for supporting authors and a diverse, creative culture by purchasing this book and complying with copyright laws.
First Edition: March 2018
Issued in print and electronic formats.
ISBN-e,ISBN 9781988970066 (ebook)
ISBN-13,ISBN-13: 9781985703223 (paperback)
ISBN-10,ISBN-10: 198570322X (paperback)
Limit of Liability/Disclaimer of Warranty: The publisher and author make no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of these contents and disclaim all warranties such as warranties of fitness for a particular purpose. The website addresses in the book were correct at the time going to print. However, the publisher and author are not responsible for the content of third-party websites, which are subject to change.
To my wife, Lillian, who is the source of energy and love for everything I do, and to Andrew and Amanda: watching you grow up has been a privilege.
For a complete list of books by Lee Tang and information about the author, visit https://lmtpress.wordpress.com.
Books by Lee Tang
1. Entering the Teen Years
2. Building a Brain
3. Under the Microscope
6. Taking Risks
10. Hard-Core Drugs
12. Mental Illness
13. The Digital Invasion of the Teenage Brain
14. Gender Matters
15. Sports and Concussions
16. Crime and Punishment
17. Beyond Adolescence
About the Author
Plea from the Author
“The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults,” by Frances E. Jensen, MD
This book explores how adolescent brain functions in learning, multitasking, stress, memory, sleep, addiction, and decision making. It explains why teenagers are not as resilient to the effects of drugs as we thought; reveals how multitasking impacts learning ability and concentration, and examines the consequences of stress on mental health during and beyond adolescence. The book dispels many myths about teens and offers practical suggestions for parents, educators, and the legal system to help teenagers navigate their way into adulthood.
Frances E. Jensen, MD, is Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Jensen has researched brain development from the neonatal period through adulthood. She was Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School, DIrector of Epilepsy Research at Boston Children’s Hospital, and Senior Neurologist at Boston Children’s and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals.
This guide is a summary, not a critique/review of the book. The summary may not be organized chapter-wise but summarizes the main ideas, viewpoints, and arguments. It is a supplement to, not a replacement for the book.
Myths About the Teenage Brain
Until ten years ago, scientists believed brain growth was complete by the time a child started kindergarten, and that teenage brain was much like an adult brain. They believed whatever talents you might have at puberty; you stayed that way for the rest of your life. Other myths and misconceptions include:
Teens are impulsive and emotional because of surging hormones.
Teens are rebellious and oppositional because they want to be difficult and different.
Teenagers’ brains are resilient and can recover quickly from shocks and illness.
The problem is, these assumptions are all wrong.
Over the last decade, neuroscientists have discovered the teen’s brain is still in a stage of development so its functioning differs greatly from an adult brain. This finding not only dispels many myths about teens but also offers practical suggestions for parents, educators, and the legal system to help teenagers navigate their way into adulthood.
The Teenage Brain Explained
The Teenage Brain
ENTERING THE TEEN YEARS
At puberty, the KISS1 gene produces a protein called kisspeptin which causes the pituitary gland to release its storage of sex hormones, triggering physical changes in adolescents. Boys will deepen their voice and grow facial hair. Girls will develop breasts and begin menstruation. These sex hormones are active in the limbic system, the emotional center of the brain. That explains in part why adolescents are emotionally volatile and seek emotionally charged experiences.
Inside the teen brain, new connections are being built and many neurotransmitters are in flux. The stress, drugs, and neurotransmitters can affect the teen brain with more serious consequences than adult brains:
Adolescence is a time of increased response to stress, which may in part be why anxiety disorder, including panic disorder, arise during puberty.
Teens don’t have the same tolerance for the stress as adults.
Teens are much more likely to exhibit stress-induced illnesses and physical problems
Teenage brains are not capable of making mature decisions
The hormone tetrahydro pregnenolone (THP), released in response to stress to modulate anxiety, has a reverse effect in adolescents, raising anxiety instead of tamping it down.
Inside Puberty: What Are the Stages of Puberty?
You’re Entering Puberty, Charlie Brown! (Parody)
All About Boys Puberty
What is Puberty? Decoding Puberty in Girls
BUILDING A BRAIN
The brain comprises gray and white matters. The gray matter houses the principal brain cells, called neurons. These are the cells responsible for thought, perception, motion, and control of bodily functions. Neurons connect with other neurons through the white matter which comprises axons. It is white because it’s covered with a fatty substance called myelin—a great electrical insulation. The brain has a rippled structure on the outside surface, the result of tight packing inside the skull. Human has the most complex brain folding structure of all species. Cats and dogs have some, and rats and mice have none. The smoother the surface, the simpler the brain.
There are two sides to the brain, each called a hemisphere. The right side of our brain controls the left side of our body. The brain sits on the brainstem which controls many of our most critical biological functions, like breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and bladder and bowel movements. The brainstem and spinal cord are connected to the brain through the thalamus. Information from all the senses flows through the thalamus to the cerebral cortex which comprises four lobes:
Frontal (top front)—houses the primary motor cortex. It provides executive functions, judgment, insight, and impulse control.
Parietal (top back)—houses the primary sensory cortex and integrates sensory information (sight, touch, navigation, perception).
Temporal (sides)—houses the auditory cortex for hearing. Its main functions include hearing, memory, emotion, sexuality, and language.
Occipital (back)—houses the visual cortex for vision.