Thursday, August 20, 2015
The teenage brain
Attended a short presentation with Nathan Mikaere-Wallis who is an educator with a trust, Brainwave Trust Aotearoa, set up to disseminate neuroscience research on brain development from birth to adulthood to NZ organisations.
Most of the trust’s work is focused on supporting better outcomes for young children as the bulk of brain development occurs in the first 1000 days, the first three years of life. Our brain grows by a third during the first 1000 days and the various networks in the frontal context and our efficacy to learning etc. are set up at this crucial life stage. For summary, see wiki by Nathan and podcast on National Radio on what 3 to 7 year olds should learn.
Much of the framework supporting early brain development is based on the Perry neurosequential model. More also from the childtrauma academy.
In short, our brains have evolved over millions of years. We have a brain stem(brain 1) which takes care of our physical needs to keep us alive. Then there is the brain 2 which ensures we move as it controls motion etc. Brain 3 is the limbic brain which provides us with our emotions / feelings / motivations etc. and brain 4 the neocortex, allows us to learn complex cognitive tasks like reading and writing.
Babies need dyadic attachment relationships to ensure brain development progresses well during the crucial 1000 days. We are primed to learn how to read and write at 7. During adolescence, there is a period of reconsolidation and reconstruction in the neocortex at average age of 27. Girls generally mature beyond adolescences between 18 and 24, boys between 22 and 32. The adolescence phase is theorised to exist as that is the time we have evolved to be sexually active and begin procreation. However, contemporary society is not in synch, with child birth in women now pushed well into the 30s.
Having a dyadic relationship during adolescence may assist in helping young men engage with learning. Perhaps why apprenticeship work as young men are ‘primed’ to be receptive to building a relationship with a mentor at this stage in life development.