Scientists unravel the mysteries of the teenage brain
May 17, 2013 Leave a comment
Teenage mood swings were immortalised in Harry Enfield’s comedy character Kevin, but now scientists are researching exactly why he and his real-life peers feel everything is “so unfair.” Scientists believe the scans of the young people being examined will show gradual changes in the white matter of their brains Psychiatrists at Cambridge University have begun a £5m study of the adolescent brain in which they aim to pinpoint changes in the way it is wired that are responsible for the impulsive and emotional behaviour so familiar to parents of teens. The project will involve scanning the brains of 300 people aged between 14 and 24 to investigate the way they change as the person matures and whether these changes are what cause teenagers to gradually shed their sometimes antisocial behavioural patterns.
The researchers also hope to learn more about how mental disorders develop in young adults in the process. Professor Ed Bullmore, one of the psychiatrists involved in the study, told BBC News: “MRI scans will give us very good pictures of how the anatomy of the brain changes over the course of development. We are particularly interested in how the tissue at the centre of the brain, known as white matter, might change over the course of development.”
He believes the scans of the young people being examined will show gradual changes in the white matter of their brains as it starts to bring under control the impulses caused by hormones. More adult behaviour is expected to result from the brain changes observed.
Dr Becky Inkster, another of the scientists working on the study, added: “Arguably we’ve all been there and it’s a very awkward and complex and confusing time of life. So to be able to express oneself is quite difficult. So by the use of imaging and other tools we can really tap into these features of the adolescent brain and understand how they develop over time as they become a young adult.”