Scientists say that adolescent brains are changing so rapidly that they find it hard to process basic information, which leads to emotional and social problems. Their ability to recognize other people’s emotional states is significantly reduced starting at age 11 and doesn’t return to normal until they?re around 18 years old.

For researcher Robert McGivern, this explains why teenagers find life so tough. Studies show that puberty causes sudden increases in the connectivity of nerves in parts of the brain, especially in the prefrontal cortex. “This plays an important role in the assessment of social relationships, as well as planning and control of our social behavior,” says McGivern.

He showed 300 people aged 10 to 22 images containing faces or words, or a combination of both and asked them to describe the emotion that was being expressed, such as anger, happiness or sadness. The speed at which people could identify emotions dropped by 20% at the age of 11. Reaction time improved a little each year after that, but only returned to normal at 18.

McGivern says that just when teenagers are being exposed to a greater variety of social situations, their brains are going through a temporary “remodeling.” As a result, they can find emotional situations confusing, leading to the kind of adolescent behavior that annoys the adults around them.

Our brains don’t have to stop growing at age 18. Joseph Chilton Pearce shows how we can physically change in order to become more spiritual beings in ?The Biology of Transcendence,?click here.

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