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Teen Brain Growth and the Frontal Lobe

Home » Teen Brain Growth and the Frontal Lobe
September 24, 2019
Edward Smith

Teen Brain Growth and the Frontal Lobe

The process of teen brain growth is complicated and has an immense impact on the ability (or inability) of teenagers to drive. Recently, a research paper was published showing that the frontal lobe is not fully developed when many teenagers learn to drive. This study, published by the National Institutes of Mental Health, makes a link between teen brain growth and driving.

It is important for everyone to understand the growth of the brain and driving. If the brain is not ready to handle the demands of operating a car, it places not only the driver but also everyone else on the road at risk. Therefore, this paper has important implications for the safety of everyone, including teenagers, behind the wheel.

The Frontal Lobe is the Last to Develop

Teenagers are capable of handling tremendous pressure. They can make straight As in advanced placement classes, letter in multiple sports for their high school, and serve their community. On the other hand, teenagers are also well-known for their poor driving skills. While mistakes in the classroom might be frustrating, mistakes on the road can be life-threatening, particularly when they involve texting and driving.

A new study from the National Institutes of Mental Health might be able to reconcile this dichotomy. There has been a tremendous amount of research into the field of neural growth and development during the past decade. This research has shown that brains grow at a fast rate during the teenage years. On the other hand, young brains also have crucial synapses that remain undeveloped. This is one of the reasons why teenagers might appear to be impulsive and susceptible to peer pressure.

Studies have shown that the frontal lobe is the last part of the brain to develop. This lobe also plays a critical role in several important cognitive processes. These include judgment, planning, and reasoning. These are all skills that are important for safety behind the wheel. Perhaps this is why teenagers are prone to automobile accidents on the road.

The Timing of Teen Brain Growth

The frontal lobe is not finished maturing by the time most people receive their first driver’s license. According to medical research, this process isn’t completed until closer to the age of 30. By this time, many teenagers have already been on the road for more than ten years.

In addition, the brain develops at different speeds in boys and girls. The parts of the brain involved in information processing start to develop at around age 12 in girls. On the other hand, this doesn’t happen until age 14 in boys. This means that brain development in boys appears to lag about two years behind that of girls.

Finally, teen brains are also more susceptible to the toxic effects of alcohol. Studies have shown that alcohol tends to wash out of the teen brain cells more slowly than their adult counterparts. While the legal age of alcohol consumption in this country is 21, many teenagers still drink. Because their brains are so susceptible, the impacts of alcohol on teenagers, particularly when it comes to drunk driving, are severe.

The Impact for the Future

The impact of this research on teenage driving has led to significant debate. This research may explain why teenagers are more likely to text and drive, speed, and even lose control of their car. Some officials have suggested that the minimum driving age be raised to 18. Parents have said this would place additional responsibilities on an already full schedule. There should be a happy medium in the middle.

This is why the state of California has gone with a tiered system. Teenagers can get their learner’s permit at age 15, where they must drive under the supervision of a guardian. Drivers can then earn a restricted license at 16. After 12 months of successful driving, they can move to a full license. This graduated system places the onus on the teenagers to demonstrate that they both understand the risks associated with driving and how to handle the responsibility of operating a motor vehicle.

San Francisco Brain Injury Lawyer 

I’m Ed Smith, a San Francisco Brain Injury Lawyer. Teen brain growth is complicated, and the frontal lobe plays an important role in driving. If someone you care about has sustained a brain injury due to the negligence of another person or entity, please call me today at (415) 805-7284 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly legal advice.

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Attribution of Photo: The photo on this article was originally located on Pixabay. The Creative Commons License has permitted its reproduction on this page.

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