“Today, a patient asked me why his teenager is making the questionable decisions he is making. The quick answer is that teens have a undeveloped brain, particularly in the frontal cortex,” says Dr. Cohen of ProActive Chiropractic.

Among the helpful resources for parents and teachers with the same question is http://teenagebrain.blogspot.com which compiles interviews with many specialists on the topic.

Some quotations from these interviews sum up the current knowledge:

“We once thought that the brain was fully formed by the end of childhood, but research has shown that adolescence is a time of profound brain growth and change. We now know:

Between childhood and adulthood the brain’s “wiring diagram” becomes more complex and more efficient, especially in the brain’s prefrontal cortex.

The greatest changes to the parts of the brain that are responsible for impulse-control, judgement, decision-making, planning, organization, and involved in other functions like emotion, occur in adolescence. This area of the brain (prefrontal cortex) does not reach full maturity until around age 25!

Adult response to stimuli tends to be more intellectual, while teens’ is often more ‘from the gut.'”

Dr. Cohen’s summary: Don’t explain things to teenagers the same way you would an adult. Make sure their diet is as balanced as possible. If they are not getting healthy fats (particularly omega 3 fish oils) to help  with brain development and  and healthy proteins (crucial for neurotransmitter formation) their brains are not going to function as well as they could.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2006/oct/17/prisonsandprobation.ukcrime I know your teenager isn’t a criminal; this points out how important fish oil is for mood stabilization and how omega 3’s have been shown to help with depression and bipolar disorder.