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Thread: Maturity and brain development - when are we adult?

  1. #1
    Wowbagger the Infinitely Polite Array Geoff's Avatar
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    Default Maturity and brain development - when are we adult?

    Just interested in thoughts on the following...

    I read an interesting article in National Geographic this month.. excerpt follows :

    Different areas of the brain develop in differing rates into early adulthood. Certainly the pruning and shaping of Corina's brain during her early months as a learning machine were critical. But according to recent imaging studies of children...a second growth spurt in gray matter occurs just before puberty.

    Assuming she was a typical girl, Corina's cortex was thickest at the age of 11 (boys peak a year and a half later). This wave of growth was following by anotyher thinning of gray matter that lasted throughout her teen years, and indeed has only recently been completed. This first areas of her brain to finish the process were those involved in basic functions, such as sensory processing and mnovement, in the extreme front of the brain. Next came regions governing spatial orientation and language in the parietal lobes on the sides of the brain.

    The last area of the brain to reach maturity is the prefontal cortex where the so called executive brain resides - where we make social judgements, weigh alternatives, plan for the future and hold our behaviour in check.

    "The executive brain doesnt hit adult levels until the age of 25" -Jay Giedd, National insitute of Mental Health". "At puberty you have adult passions, sex drive, energy and emotion but the reining in doesnt happen until much later"

    It is no wonder perhaps that teenagers seem to lack good judgement of the ability to restrain impulses.

    "We can vote at 18 and drive a car. But you can't rent a car until you are 25. In terms of brain anatomy, the only people who have it right are the car rental people!".
    Now I find this quite interesting. I have not heard before of any proper scientific proof as to when we become adults. But this science suggests that intellectually we are adults at 25, even if physically we can reproduce maybe 10+ years younger.

    My own experiences certainly seem to fit a sudden development in the mid 20's that have left me complete, where I have remained since then. Before then I can remember times when i was overwhelmed by pubescence or excess. I always put it down to puberty, but never realised it might simply be that my brain had simply not finished growing.

    From an evolutionary point of view 25 is quite late... in pre historic man/woman that is a late time to be good at judgement. Yet in today's world it makes sense.

    So are we forcing adulthood on our children too early? Is the trend now for children to stay home in the mid 20's until they are 'with it' enough to leave merely a sign of the true reaching of adulthood now that some of the economic demands for them to depart are being removed?

    What are your views if you are over/under this sort of age.. did you experience a change.. a growing up over and above pubescence some years later as I did (and this article suggests?). Did you put it down to experience rather than physical development?

    If you are younger, are you still struggling with this?

    -Geoff

    PS if it is true, doesnt it make it a shame we put people through university before they are ready to make executive decisions about their future...

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    Senior Member Array cjs55's Avatar
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    As Futurama says: "Please... Everyone knows 20th century colleges were basically expensive day care centers."
    "Rascals are always sociable - more's the pity! and the chief sign that a man has any nobility in his character is the little pleasure he takes in others' company." -Schopenhauer

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    The Evil Eye Array coffeezombie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjs55
    As Futurama says: "Please... Everyone knows 20th century colleges were basically expensive day care centers."
    Poor ones at that.

    Even if we don't fully develop our brains until 25, I don't think that's an excuse for parents to treat their under-25 year old like a little kid. Part of the maturation process is learning to fully participate in the world as an independent adult. One shouldn't just be exepcted to "jump into" the world at age 25. All I think it means is that parents (and perhaps the legal system) should be more tolerant of people and their actions before they reach the age of 25. I don't think the age of majority should be changed at any rate no matter what these findings find.
    CZ
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    Member Array Solo's Avatar
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    I'm only 15 and I think of myself as an adult. I really don't buy into these studies. I know men and women in there 30's and 40's that aren't nearly as mature as I am. I can understand going through a change but I think mine was when I was 11. They may sound odd but it is true. I intellectually surpass many adult I meet. They are no more mature than I am. For these reason I believe one cannot put an age on when we become adults. It's all just a state of mind.
    I will do this. Nothing in my life matters except this. No moment in my life exists except this moment. I am born in this moment, and if I fail, I will die in this moment.
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    Paratrooper At Heart Array Nighthawk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff
    So are we forcing adulthood on our children too early? Is the trend now for children to stay home in the mid 20's until they are 'with it' enough to leave merely a sign of the true reaching of adulthood now that some of the economic demands for them to depart are being removed?
    Personally, I'm glad both of mine left home at 18. Another 7 years of listening to "you're so unfair" while I was paying for everything would have driven me over the edge.
    Nighthawk
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    Then gradually I began to intellectually reject some of the delusionally influenced lines of thinking which had been characteristic of my orientation. This began with the rejection of politically-oriented thinking as essentially a hopeless waste of intellectual effort.
    - John Nash

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    The Evil Eye Array coffeezombie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nighthawk
    Personally, I'm glad both of mine left home at 18. Another 7 years of listening to "you're so unfair" while I was paying for everything would have driven me over the edge.
    I live with a parent now and I am unemployed and 31. I definitely don't act like that anymore. However, I think it's more a matter of kids being independent and learning what it is like to be on one's own and completely independent more than it is of brain development. The best way to learn something is to experience it, not just to wait for one's brain to mature.
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    Wowbagger the Infinitely Polite Array Geoff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coffeezombie
    Poor ones at that.

    Even if we don't fully develop our brains until 25, I don't think that's an excuse for parents to treat their under-25 year old like a little kid. Part of the maturation process is learning to fully participate in the world as an independent adult. One shouldn't just be exepcted to "jump into" the world at age 25. All I think it means is that parents (and perhaps the legal system) should be more tolerant of people and their actions before they reach the age of 25. I don't think the age of majority should be changed at any rate no matter what these findings find.

    Ahh, I am not arguing for an extension to the age of majority.

    I am just interested in thoughts as to whether it really does take until 25 until you reach an adult decision making ability. I *felt* I had one at 15 (as Solo does) but then it changed again in my mid twenties and I felt more assured and decisive than I had before.

    I suppose it is part of this thing that whatever age you are, the older people seem so much more mature. Until you hit about 25 and then it levels out. Does this resonate with anyone?

    -Geoff

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    Wowbagger the Infinitely Polite Array Geoff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nighthawk
    Personally, I'm glad both of mine left home at 18. Another 7 years of listening to "you're so unfair" while I was paying for everything would have driven me over the edge.
    Heh yes. I moved back in when I was in my 20's for a while before I bought my first place to live.... We were all happiest when I moved out

    -Geoff

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    Senior Member Array cjs55's Avatar
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    I intellectually surpass many adult I meet. They are no more mature than I am.
    I thought of myself as an adult when I was 15 as well. I matured extremely quickly in some areas. In some areas I didn't. I think you may find out some other things that don't have to do with your intellect later on (as I did). My thought process was more advanced than most of my teachers, certainly, but thats only one part of maturity.

    At 20 and a half I'm still a kid in some ways.
    "Rascals are always sociable - more's the pity! and the chief sign that a man has any nobility in his character is the little pleasure he takes in others' company." -Schopenhauer

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    The Evil Eye Array coffeezombie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff
    Ahh, I am not arguing for an extension to the age of majority.

    I am just interested in thoughts as to whether it really does take until 25 until you reach an adult decision making ability. I *felt* I had one at 15 (as Solo does) but then it changed again in my mid twenties and I felt more assured and decisive than I had before.

    -Geoff
    It's difficult to isolate when a stupid decision has been made because of lack of brain development or due just to lack of experience. I know I was making such bad decisions at least up until 24, but I'm not sure that's because my brain was not fully immature yet.
    CZ
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