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Teens Less Likely to Consider Feelings of Others When Deciding

If the teens in your life sometimes seem oblivious to the feelings of those around them, especially when making decisions, …well, maybe they are, according to a new study on the teen brain.

Researchers from a British university report that the medial frontal cortex, the part of the brain used to determine others’ motivations, as well as anticipate their reactions to words or incidents, are undeveloped and under-used in teens.

They depend, instead, on the superior temporal sulcus, a brain area which uses the past to predict the future.

According to researcher Dr. Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, “It seems that adults might be better at putting themselves in other people’s mental shoes and thinking about the emotional impact of actions…

The relative difficulty that teenagers have could be down to them using a different strategy when trying to understand someone else’s perspective, perhaps because the relevant part of the brain is still developing.

The other factor to consider is that adults have had much more social experience…

Whatever the reasons, it is clear that teenagers are dealing with, not only massive hormonal shifts, but also substantial neural changes.

“These changes do not happen gradually and steadily between the ages of 0-18.

“They come on in great spurts and puberty is one of the most dramatic developmental stages.”

[“Feelings Matter Less To Teenagers, New Research Suggests,” Medical News Today, 09-09-06, http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=51154; Abst Clrnghse, 13Sept06]