On the face of it, teenagers can seem as though they behave irrationally and impulsively, taking excessive risks. Yet neuroscience reveals that something much more complex may be going on.
Join Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore of UCL as she explains her research into the development of the adolescent brain in humans.
Our social cognitive processes are involved in navigating an increasingly complex world. These processes start to develop in childhood and continue to do so throughout adolescence.
Whilst this stage in human life is often seen as characterised by irrational behaviour, these behaviours can be interpreted as both rational and adaptive. This understanding comes from appreciating that a key goal of this period is to mature into an independent adult living in a social world that is unstable and changing.
Over the last twenty years neuroscience research has shown that the human brain develops both structurally and in the way it works during adolescence. Areas of the social brain undergo significant reorganization during this crucial second decade. These major changes may in turn reflect a particularly sensitive period for adapting to the social environment.
Whilst adolescence brings risks and vulnerabilities (particularly to mental ill health), it is also a crucial period of opportunities, as the social brain reorganises itself in preparation for adulthood.
These major findings from the work of cognitive neuroscience have wide-ranging implications for how we structure public health and education to best meet the needs of today’s teenagers and tomorrow’s adults.
Of equal interest to parents and teenagers, teachers, medical professionals and anyone with a stake in the future, this event is open to everyone.
The Royal College of Physicians presents this fascinating free lecture as part of a season marking its 500th anniversary, reflecting on the history and future of medicine, society and health.
Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore
Sarah-Jayne Blakemore is Professor in Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL. She is Leader of the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Group and Deputy Director of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.
Professor Blakemore is actively involved in public engagement with science activities and has an interest in the links between neuroscience and education. She also worked with Company Three on their play, Brainstorm, written and performed by teenagers, which was shown at the National Theatre in London.
6pm - Arrival refreshments (tea and coffee)
6.30pm - Lecture starts
7.30pm - Lecture finishes
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