Adolescence is a transition period from childhood to adulthood. This stage constitutes the main content and specific difference in all aspects of development in this period, including the physical, mental, moral, and social. The social significance of the issue is determined by the complexity and importance of the developmental processes at this age, associated with the transition from one period of development to another. According to Schunk (2020), in adolescence, self-awareness occurs, moral values and interests are formed, relationships between people, and one’s future are formed, and the craving for communication with peers increases. Adolescents are already capable of logical thinking, theoretical reasoning, and introspection (Best & Ban, 2021). At this age, there is an active improvement in the self-control of activities, which leads to the fact that adolescents can hold attention for a long time, switch or distribute it between several actions, and maintain a relatively high pace of work. Fuligni (2019) asserts that at this age, spatial thinking, language abilities, and impulse control improve, and emotional reactions weaken. Thus, in teenagers’ intellectual development, the formation of their cognitive sphere is the main stage of their mental development, one of the necessary conditions for forming a personality.
Vijayakumar et al. (2018) emphasize that pubertal development is associated with concurrent neurobiological maturation during adolescence. Thus, adolescence is characterized by the development of such cognitive abilities as mentalization, as well as the ability to recognize and interpret the feelings, intentions, and desires of other people. Moreover, Vijayakumar et al. (2018) note that the appearance of a differentiated sense of self and the strengthening of self-esteem is also characteristic of adolescence. Thus, this study highlights the inextricable link between pubertal development and neurobiological maturation during adolescence.
Best and Ban (2021) note the importance of studying neurological development during adolescence, as it contributes to understanding the characteristics of thought processes and behavior of young people. The researchers note that due to changes occurring in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, adolescence is characterized by the development of such abilities as taking risks, planning and understanding the consequences of one’s actions, and controlling impulses. Moreover, according to Best and Ban (2021), during adolescence, the focus shifts from a spontaneous emotional response to a more measured, logical response due to the development of the limbic region of the brain. Thus, this study highlights important aspects of adolescent development.
In her research, Fuligni (2019) explores the neural and biological aspects of adolescent needs, including autonomy, identity, and intimacy. The propensity to help and support others can be present throughout life, but growing maturity and an expanding social world make adolescence a crucial time for empathy (Fuligni, 2019). The author notes that this ability of adolescents is an essential skill for social acceptance and integration, critical for long-term functioning in adulthood. Helping others increases autonomy and freedom of action, builds identity, and fosters close social contacts. It is noteworthy that some of the findings of this study echo the ideas of Best and Ban (2021). This concerns the role of neural and biological mechanisms in the development of adolescents.
A study by Babakr et al. (2019) challenges Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Researchers note some shortcomings of this theory, including those regarding the adolescent period of development. Babakr et al. (2019) argue that Piaget overestimated adolescents’ abilities. So, according to Piaget’s theory, the final cognitive stage in children is the formal operational one, which is characterized by stable thinking, understanding, and logical thinking. The researchers concluded that not all children reach this stage due to the lack of education in some communities. Moreover, analytic thinking can only be characteristic of one particular branch of knowledge (Babakr et al., 2019). Thus, for all the importance and relevance of Piaget’s theory, Babakr et al. (2019) outlined its shortcomings.
The modern child finds himself in a new situation of entering the world of social relations – in the conditions of digital socialization. Odgers and Jensen (2020) consider several risks of digital socialization of adolescents, such as communication, technical, consumer, and Internet addiction, which, according to other scientists, negatively affect their mental development. However, after reviewing many reviews and studies, Odgers and Jensen (2020) concluded that there is no strong and reliable association between time spent online and adolescent mental health and well-being. The scientists note the importance of supporting teenagers in their use of the Internet in order to build the capacity for safe navigation in the online space. Moreover, Odgers and Jensen (2020) point to some of the benefits of teens using digital technologies, including psychological support, as well as access to educational content. Thus, this study challenges the idea that the Internet is harmful to teenagers.
Neurobiological theories of learning based on the study of the characteristics of the brain make it possible to form an approach adapted to a particular period of development of children. Scientists have concluded that as we grow older, connections between brain regions increase and strengthen (Kernberg, 2015). During adolescence, there is a significant increase in connections in the structures responsible for the ability to make informed decisions, get along with others and carry out long-term planning, which significantly affects the learning process. A study by Fuligni (2019) highlights the impact of neural connections on adolescent development. The author explains the ability of teenagers to help others due to the development of their brains. Vijayakumar et al. (2018) also explore the impact of puberty on neurobiological changes that promote the development of specific skills. Thus, research confirms the importance of neuroscience in the development and learning of adolescents.
The studies reviewed convincingly showed that learning processes, pedagogical techniques, and the processes of assimilation of educational material are associated with the work of the brain, the most delicate mechanisms at the level of neurons and interneuronal synapses, and cognitive processes. Thus, the learning process of a teenager should be built, considering the laws of the brain. In turn, the study of the development of adolescents, considering the neurobiological characteristics of their brain, is vital for public health. For example, since new psychiatric drugs are scarce and adolescent brains are highly responsive, non-drug interventions are best, especially at an early age when the brain is still developing rapidly. An example is the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder when the patient is placed in an environment that causes obsessive thoughts, and their reaction to this situation is gradually changed. This method is very effective and can save the patient from further problems. Understanding that the brain changes throughout adolescence makes it time to abandon the notion that youth is incorrigible. Knowing the neurobiological features of brain development in adolescence, timely intervention can improve the life of a teenager.
Babakr, Z. H., Mohamedamin, P., & Kakamad, K. (2019). Piaget’s cognitive developmental theory: Critical review. Education Quarterly Reviews, 2(3), 517-524. Web.
Best, O. & Ban, S. (2021). Adolescence: Physical changes and neurological development. British Journal of Nursing, 30(5). Web.
Fuligni, A. J. (2019). The need to contribute during adolescence. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 14(3), 331–343. Web.
Kernberg, O. F. (2015). Neurobiological correlates of object relations theory: The relationship between neurobiological and psychodynamic development. International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 24(1), 38-46. Web.
Odgers, C. L., & Jensen, M. R. (2020). Adolescent development and growing divides in the digital age. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 22(2), 143–149. Web.
Schunk, D. (2020). Learning theories: An educational perspective (8th ed.). Pearson Education.
Vijayakumar, N., Op de Macks, Z., Shirtcliff, E. A., & Pfeifer, J. H. (2018). Puberty and the human brain: Insights into adolescent development. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 92, 417–436. Web.