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Research finds that teens can experience both incredible cognitive growth and increased vulnerabilities as a result of brain development during adolescence. Image ©.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

New Research Uncovers the Medical Mysteries of the Teenage Brain

Any parent who has brought home a Baby Einstein toy, music disc or DVD knows the kind of pressure placed on moms and dads to give their newborn child the very best start. The first seven years of a child’s existence has been touted as the most important development period of his or her life.

But now Frances Jenson, a Harvard neuroscientist and senior neurologist at two Boston hospitals, has released new research on brain development. In her book, The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults, she emphasizes the importance of the teen years in brain development, addiction avoidance and mental health.

“That seven years in their life is, in a way, as important as their first seven years of life. It is probably one of the most important seven-year [periods] of their entire life,” said Jenson.

Jenson began her research in earnest after her two teenage boys underwent dramatic changes in their lives including falling grades, new friends and some reckless behavior following her divorce. Her studies found that “teen brains are far more vulnerable that we thought.”

Harvard psychobiologist Bertha Madras has also urged the government to channel more funding into research on teen brain development. At a recent research conference she said. “The derailment of an adolescent may or may not be reversible and we have to understand it,” said.

The research suggests parents should rethink their approach to parenting their teens. In the Macleans article “Inside your teenager’s scary brain” Jenson goes on to say, “We could get so much more out of our teenagers—and who they become later in life, in many cases—if we took a different approach to this window of time.”