The biology 

Your brain is a very complex and interesting part of your body and oversees controlling and regulating everything the body does.  

It is made up of three parts; the brainstem, the cerebellum and the top brain.   

The brainstem connects the brain to the body and controls things like breathing, digestion and our heart rate and is sometimes called the primitive part of our brain. 

The cerebellum controls balance and all our emotions. 

The top brain is the ‘boss’ of our bodies receiving signals and returning responses for everything that happens. For example, if something hot touches our hand, it’s our brain that tells us to pull away so we don’t not get burnt!  

What happens to our brains during the teenage years? 

During the teenage years some changes happen to the brain that continue into your mid-20s. During these changes, some connections that young people don’t use will be removed, while other connections are strengthened. This is the brain’s way of becoming more efficient, based on the ‘use it’ or ‘lose it’ principal.  

This process begins in the back of the brain and so the front part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, is ‘renovated’ last. This is the decision-making part of the brain and is responsible for the  ability to plan and think about what we are going to do and the consequences of our actions.  

It also helps us to solve problems and control their reactions to what’s going on around us. The prefrontal cortex is very important but is not always fully developed until we’re at least 25. 

Because the prefrontal cortex is still developing, another part of the brain called the amygdala will step in to help us make decisions and solve problems. The amygdala usually deals with emotions, impulsive reactions, and aggression, so this can explain why  young people make sudden decisions that they later can’t explain. They ‘felt’ the response more than they ‘thought’ it. 

What can I do to support encourage more positive thoughts and feelings? 

How you spend your time is crucial to your brain development. So it’s worth thinking about the range of activities and experiences you are interested in – music, sports, study, languages, video games and so on. In order for your brain to develop in a brilliant and way it’s important to think about whether your interests  encourage positive thoughts and feelings, promote good thinking skills, help you feel get lots of sleep and feel better about yourself. 

If the answer is no, we would encourage you to think about doing some more positive things that will help your brain to grow in a brilliant way. 

Watch this video to learn more about the teenage brain: Understanding The Teenage Brain – Platfform4YP