Adolescent Maturity and the Brain: The Promise and Pitfalls of Neuroscience Research in Adolescent Health Policy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Longitudinal neuroimaging studies demonstrate that the adolescent brain continues to mature well into the 20s. This has prompted intense interest in linking neuromaturation to maturity of judgment. Public policy is struggling to keep up with burgeoning interest in cognitive neuroscience and neuroimaging. However, empirical evidence linking neurodevelopmental processes and adolescent real-world behavior remains sparse. Nonetheless, adolescent brain development research is already shaping public policy debates about when individuals should be considered mature for policy purposes. With this in mind, in this article we summarize what is known about adolescent brain development and what remains unknown, as well as what neuroscience can and cannot tell us about the adolescent brain and behavior. We suggest that a conceptual framework that situates brain science in the broader context of adolescent developmental research would help to facilitate research-to-policy translation. Furthermore, although contemporary discussions of adolescent maturity and the brain often use a deficit-based approach, there is enormous opportunity for brain science to illuminate the great strengths and potentialities of the adolescent brain. So, too, can this information inform policies that promote adolescent health and well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)216-221
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Volume45
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2009

Keywords

  • Adolescent
  • Health policy
  • Judgment
  • Neuroimaging
  • Neuroscience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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