When Does The Brain Fully Develop and Can This Be Part of the Problem?

prefrontal cortex

According to Mental Health Daily (as well as many other medical sources),  “It is widely debated as to which age the brain is considered “fully mature” or developed. In the past, many experts believed that the brain may have been done developing in the mid to late teens. Then along came some evidence to suggest that development may last until at least age 20.” These days, a consensus of neuroscientists agree that brain development likely persists until at least the mid-20s – possibly until the 30s. – Average consensus is approximately 25 years of age.

 

At what age is the brain fully developed?

 

“Although brain development is subject to significant individual variation, most experts suggest that the brain is fully developed by age 25. For some people, brain development may be complete prior to age 25, while for others it may end after age 25.  The mid-20s or “25” is just an average age given as checkpoint for when the brain has likely become mature. It may seem logical that those aged 18 to 25 are completely mature, the brain still is maturing – specifically the area known as the “prefrontal cortex.” Changes occurring between ages 18 and 25 are essentially a continued process of brain development that started during puberty. When you’re 18, you’re roughly halfway through the entire stage of development. The prefrontal cortex doesn’t have nearly the functional capacity at age 18 as it does at 25.

 

What does the prefrontal cortex do?

 

There are a variety of functions for which the prefrontal cortex is responsible. Although significant development of the prefrontal region occurs during adolescence, experts argue that it continues until (at least) our mid 20s.

 

  • Attention: The ability to focus on one thing, while ignoring distractions is a function of our prefrontal cortex. Those with attentional deficits (e.g. ADHD) may have abnormalities within the prefrontal region. Similarly, those who abuse drugs and/or alcohol may end up with attention problems as the brain forms.
  • Complex planning: The prefrontal region is responsible for complex planning. Anytime you set a goal that requires some degree of planning, your prefrontal region is at work. Planning out tasks in your day, developing a business plan, etc. – this region is responsible. An underdeveloped prefrontal region means that your planning capabilities haven’t been solidified.
  • Decision making: We often struggle to make good decisions when we are teenagers, but as we enter our 20s, our decision making improves. This is due to the fact that our prefrontal cortex helps us think logically and make more calculated assessments of situations. Our brain weighs the risks and tells us whether a certain behavior or choice is a good idea vs. a bad one.
  • Impulse control: Struggling with impulsivity is often related to deficits in the prefrontal cortex. The ability to maintain self-discipline and avoid impulsive behaviors hasn’t reached its peak until the 20s. This means that if you struggle with impulsivity when you’re 18, it may get better as you continue to age.
  • Logical thinking: Justifying behaviors based off of emotions rather than logic is common among teens. When the prefrontal cortex fully develops, logical thinking simultaneously improves. This means you will be better at rationalizing and making smarter choices. It also means that your ability to write and solve math problems will improve.
  • Organized thinking: Organizing your thinking can be difficult when you’re a teen. A barrage of thoughts are typically influenced by hormones and you may have concentration difficulties. As you continue to age and your thoughts become more organized. The organization of your thoughts is a result of your prefrontal cortex.
  • Personality development: Your personality is directly expressed based off of your prefrontal cortex. Without proper stimulation, you may struggle with identity issues and developing a favorable personality. Since personality development continues throughout the 20s, you may want to consider how environmental inputs may affect who you are.
  • Risk management: The ability to assess risky situations and determine whether they will result in long-term benefit is a byproduct of your prefrontal cortex. Those who are poor at assessing risk may have underdeveloped prefrontal regions. The ability to turn down immediate gratification for long-term rewards is a result of this region.
  • Short-term memory: Your short-term memory function is influenced by the prefrontal cortex. When still in development, your short-term memory isn’t as good as it will be by the time you’re 25. As the brain continues to mature, your cognitive function and memorization capacity will improve.”

 

As I watch the news I’ve noticed that the “rule” rather than the “exception” are young people in their teens and/or early twenties that seem to be creating most of the havoc at protests and anti-protest movements, or even being active in the terrorist activities, not just in this country but abroad.  So many of these young people, who still do not have the advantage of a mature brain, have been indoctrinated (brainwashed) into certain belief systems by parents, teachers, leaders, friends, false information via professors, social media,  biased news sources, and government officials, who have no excuse other than ideology and their love of power and money, at their core.  Leaders of countries who take advantage of the young while they themselves sit back, away from physical harm, and reap the rewards of gaining more power and/or money, at the expense of the lives of the young and other innocent victims as they encourage them to burn, loot, look toward destruction as a solution, engage in hateful rhetoric, or wrap a bomb around their waist.

Someone this week asked the question “What causes extremism?”  In my humble opinion, I just stated the reasons.  Oh yes, I’ve heard that “poverty” causes crime, and when it comes to terrorists, that we just need to love and hug them (according to the naive Hollywood attention grabbers who want to get another five minutes of fame), and the typical explanation that they are on the “right” instead of the “left”, or visa versa, of the political isle, but I strongly  disagree with all these excuses because that is what they are – excuses!  I’ve been to third world countries that know poverty worst than anything experienced in our country or abroad and their poverty only proved to me that poverty does not cause crime because the crime rates are very low except for recently with the rise of extremism caused by various anarchist groups.

We’ve all heard the phrase “leading the sheep to water”, but isn’t it the same thing when mature adults lead our young, whose brains haven’t even matured yet, into a life of chaos, crime, and murder?

 

2 thoughts on “When Does The Brain Fully Develop and Can This Be Part of the Problem?

  1. Good post. At many of these “protests” these days stateside, there are paid thugs who incite and provoke the violence. Whence the money who finances these roving agitators? The violence is not spontaneous.

    As to young people making impulsive and irresponsible, even reckless decisions, yes, that it is a major problem. What is the solution? We can extend their childhood even later so that their brains’ development catches up, or we can try giving them more responsibility sooner in life to challenge them to mature more rapidly. Consider a few generations ago in the US when young adults got married at around 20 years of age, started families, stayed married, and lived responsibly. We need to change the culture so that this can happen again. (Culture dominates biology in some ways.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe a little bit of both. We cannot change science, but a little more responsibility sooner in life would at least change the “experiences” and the meaning of “respect” (both for others and themselves). I do agree with you that culture plays a huge part in an individual’s development. Sad thing is that the culture seems to be moving in the wrong direction these days.

      Liked by 1 person

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