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Adolesc Med State Art Rev. 2009 Apr;20(1):73-90, viii-ix.

Understanding adolescent brain development and its implications for the clinician.

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  • 1Division of Medical Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center, Box 3374, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


Contrary to long-held beliefs about brain development, widespread changes occur in the brain during the adolescent years. These changes involve a shift in control over behavior away from regions geared toward emotional processing, such as the amygdala and reward system, toward the frontal lobes, which are involved in making plans for the future, suppressing impulses, weighing options, and other critical cognitive skills needed to function in the adult world. Experience-dependant sculpting of these developing circuits ensures that each adolescent will be customized to fit the demands of his or her environment, healthy or otherwise. As adolescent brain development unfolds, risk-taking, substance use, and the emergence of psychological pathologies are common. Many recreational and prescription drugs affect adolescents and adults differently, both short-term and long-term. In this review, the changes that take place in the brain during the adolescent years are explored. What happens, how these changes can go awry, and how to help keep adolescent brain development on track will he axamined

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