Lots of studies in this area have been performed by Hallam, Leggett and Dweck.
Many adolescents believe that they are born with a set amount of cognitive ability. Worse than this they believe that this is fixed and cannot be changed – the "entity mind set." Such youngsters tend to place success as compared to others. Features of such children are: little effort put into studying | avoidance of tasks they don’t think they will understand or are not good at | if they are good at something, not realising that they still should work hard at it.
Those adolescents who rate success as to themselves actually mastering and understanding things more and more (incremental intelligence) do better.
The period of adolescence is a time where the emotions change – especially with regard to social awareness and character. The sex hormones have a great affect on the limbic system and influence serotonin levels – a hormone concerned with mood regulation. It is also a time where the person is more open to learning, social developments, anti-social behaviour and mental illness. Examples of such maladies include depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. More adolescent girls succumb to depression as they tend to be more socially aware and therefore when they perceive that things are not running smoothly they become more vulnerable. Evidence is pointing to the fact that girls overly focus on the negative event and thin about it time after time.
Brain volume and myelination grow through adolescence until the person is between 20 and 30 years old. The right ventral striatum which s concerned with motivating reward behaviour changes in adolescence and can lead to the youngster taking part in high reward high risk behaviours. The cerebellum which is connected to balance, posture and movement continues to grow well in to adolescence. The melatonin secreting gland – the pineal gland secretes melatonin much later in the day for adolescents as compared to children or adults. This has great implications for sleep.
Learning clearly revolves around this cognitive area. However added to this is an area of increasing research by neuroscientists – that of emotions. The emotions make use of brain structures that are called the limbic system. In addition the prefrontal cortex plays an extremely important part in regulating emotions. It has been discovered that this cortex develops extremely late in the human – typically when the person is in their thirties. This means that adolescence endures far longer than just the teenage years (as was previously thought)!
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