A Look Inside the Teenage Brain

By: Anita Srikameswaran and Tim Betler


Last weekend, Dr. Beatriz Luna talked about her research on the adolescent brain at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting in San Jose, Calif. Stories about her work appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Telegraph, the Independent and other outlets.

“Our studies are beginning to challenge the traditional concept that the teenage brain can’t plan because of an immature prefrontal cortex,” she said. “The teen prefrontal cortex is not much different than in the adult, but it can be easily overruled by heightened motivation centers in the brain. You have this mixture of newly gained executive control plus extra reward that is pulling the teenager toward immediate gratification.” In this video, Dr. Luna describes her team’s experiments and explains why the teen brain is perfectly adapted to a time of exploration and establishing independence from parents.