But the brain still needs a lot of remodelling before it can function as an adult brain. Some brain changes happen before puberty, and some continue long after. Brain change depends on age, experience and hormonal changes in puberty. At the same time, other connections are strengthened. This pruning process begins in the back of the brain. The front part of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, is remodelled last.
The Teen Brain
Teen Brain: Behavior, Problem Solving, and Decision Making
In adults, various parts of the brain work together to evaluate choices, make decisions and act accordingly in each situation. The teenage brain doesn't appear to work like this. For comparison's sake, think of the teenage brain as an entertainment center that hasn't been fully hooked up. There are loose wires, so that the speaker system isn't working with the DVD player, which in turn hasn't been formatted to work with the television yet.
A popular theory in recent neuroscience proposes that slow development of the prefrontal cortex -- and its weak connectivity with brain reward regions -- explains teenagers' seemingly impulsive and risky behavior. But an extensive literature review to be published in the journal Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience challenges that interpretation. The researchers examined the evidence behind that argument and found that much of it misinterpreted adolescent exploratory behavior as impulsive and lacking in control. Instead, the review suggests that much of what looks like adolescent impulsivity is behavior that is often guided by the desire to learn about the world.
Until about 15 years ago, it was widely assumed that the majority of brain development occurs in the first few years of life. But recent research on the human brain has demonstrated that many brain regions undergo protracted development throughout adolescence and beyond in humans. This advancement in knowledge has intensified old worries and given rise to new ones.