Social development in early adolescence : Social Development

Social development in early adolescence

The NIU Collaborative on Early

By Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, Royal Society Research Fellow and Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL.

1. Adolescent brain development: What have we learned in the past 15 years?

Until about 15 years ago it was assumed that the vast majority of brain development takes place in the first few years of life. Up until that point, scientists did not have the technology to look inside the living, developing human brain. In the past decade, mainly due to advances in brain imaging technologies, in particular magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), neuroscientists have started to scan the living human brain at all ages, in order to track development changes in the brain’s structure – its organisation, including how much grey matter it contains – and also how it functions, across the lifespan. Many groups around the world are working in this area, and we now have a rich and detailed picture of how the living human brain develops. This picture has significantly changed the way we think about human brain development, by revealing that development does not stop in childhood, but continues throughout adolescence and well into adulthood.

Adolescence is defined as the period of life that starts with the biological changes of puberty and ends at the point at which an individual attains a stable, independent role in society. There are clearly large cultural differences in the age range associated with adolescence, and yet there are reports of adolescent-typical behaviour, such as heightened risk-taking and peer influence, in many very different cultures. There are also similarities in descriptions of adolescents throughout history. For example, in The Winter’s Tale Shakespeare portrayed adolescents as follows:

I would there were no age between 16 and three and twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting.

Thus, almost 400 years ago, Shakespeare painted a similar picture of adolescents as we do now, and we are trying to understand this kind of adolescent-typical behaviour in terms of the underlying changes in the brain that characterise this period of life. One of the brain regions that undergoes the most striking and prolonged changes during adolescence is the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain at the very front, and is involved in a wide variety of high level cognitive functions, including decision-making and planning, inhibiting inappropriate behaviour, stopping you taking risks, social interaction and self-awareness.

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by ducksrock

Childish about my toy cars and army men, I will have you know. ;)
I hung around a lot with guys in my early adolescence, but I was never really privy to their secret world either. When it became more and more obvious that I wasn't "really" one of the guys, I was kicked out of the clubhouse so to speak. A part of me does pine for the social development and experiences my male peers had.

And studies show that is wrong, too

by no1really

Breastfeeding contributes to your child’s MENTAL and SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT
A couple of studies have shown a positive relationship between longer breastfeeding duration and social development.
– Duazo 2010, Baumgartner 1984
“A shorter duration of breastfeeding may be a predictor of adverse mental health outcomes throughout the developmental trajectory of childhood and early adolescence.”
– Oddy 2010
According to Elizabeth N. Baldwin, Esq. in “Extended Breastfeeding and the Law”:
“Breastfeeding is a warm and loving way to meet the needs of toddlers and young children

McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages Theories of Adolescence
Book (McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages)
Cengage Learning Development Through Life: A Psychosocial Approach
Book (Cengage Learning)
  • The authors organizing conceptual framework of psychosocial theory highlights the continuous interaction and integration of individual competencies with the demands...
  • One or more case studies in each chapter, accompanied by Critical Thinking and Case Analysis questions, illuminate concepts.
  • A strong multicultural perspective--including discussions of cultural practices and reviews of cross-national and inter-ethnic research--is interwoven throughout...
  • Two chapters are devoted to the theories of development: one focuses on the major theorists such as Piaget and Vygotsky, and a second is devoted to the psychosocial...
  • Every chapter helps to guide student study with a chapter-opening outline and brief list of objectives, an integrated case study with accompanying analysis and critical-thinking...