Those of us who work in, follow, support and/or are products for boys education will find interesting reading in two short articles and the meta study they cover.
The meta study “Teenage Brains: Think Different?” is published in a special volume of Developmental Neuroscience.
“Florida State neuroscientist Pradeep Bhide, Ph.D., brought together some of the world’s foremost researchers in a quest to explain why teenagers — boys, in particular — often behave erratically.”
Speaking to Florida State 24/7 Bhide explained:
Psychologists, psychiatrists, educators, neuroscientists, criminal justice professionals and parents are engaged in a daily struggle to understand and solve the enigma of teenage risky behaviors…Such behaviors impact not only the teenagers who obviously put themselves at serious and lasting risk but also families and societies in general.
…The emotional and economic burdens of such behaviors are quite huge. The research described in this book offers clues to what may cause such maladaptive behaviors and how one may be able to devise methods of countering, avoiding or modifying these behaviors.”(FSU 24/7)
An example of findings published in the book that provide new insights about the inner workings of a teenage boy’s brain:
Unlike children or adults, teenage boys show enhanced activity in the part of the brain that controls emotions when confronted with a threat. Magnetic resonance scanner readings in one study revealed that the level of activity in the limbic brain of adolescent males reacting to threat, even when they’ve been told not to respond to it, was strikingly different from that in adult men.
Using brain activity measurements, another team of researchers found that teenage boys were mostly immune to the threat of punishment but hypersensitive to the possibility of large gains from gambling. The results question the effectiveness of punishment as a deterrent for risky or deviant behavior in adolescent boys.
Another study demonstrated that a molecule known to be vital in developing fear of dangerous situations is less active in adolescent male brains. These findings point toward neurochemical differences between teenage and adult brains, which may underlie the complex behaviors exhibited by teenagers.”(FSU 24/7)
The trick, of course, is, given our increasing understanding of boys’ brains and emotional and neurological development, can we take these understandings and make ourselves more effective in teaching and raising boys?
As Dr. Bide says, “how to design educational strategies and how best to treat or modify a teenager’s maladaptive behavior.”(FSU 24/7)
There are no prescriptions, yet – but this is fertile territory for parents and boys boarding schools.