Episode 1: Welcome to Teenagehood

In order to kick off Brainstorms, Episode 1 starts from the very beginning of the teenage years: that wonderful life stage called puberty. In Episode 1, we explore the effects that sex hormones have on the body and the brain, and introduce some major brain regions that define the teenage brain. As it turns out, puberty does not just reshape our bodies and crank up our sex drives- it changes the fundamental structures of our brains. In order to understand what it means to have a teenage brain, we must understand how sex hormones change its structure and functionality.

Click here for the full transcript of this podcast: Welcome to Teenagehood TranscriptNote: Conversational pieces of transcripts may deviate slightly from the spoken podcast, but all facts and science are preserved.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to cover everything in a single podcast episode (even if I made it twelve hours long, I probably wouldn’t cover half of what’s out there). Here are some links to extra information that is relevant to this podcast:

In the podcast, we discuss when puberty typically starts. However, the age of onset of puberty has been declining at a rapid rate in recent decades- girls are entering puberty as young age age 6. For more information about the causes and consequences of this trend, check out this article from Scientific American and this one from the NY Times.

If you want to learn more about the physical effects of puberty, Teens Health provides a concise explanation of a lot of the changes that happen during puberty.

For a more intense explanation of the changes that occur in the brain during adolescence, PubMed has an excellent paper about the adolescent brain (I used this paper for the podcast as well).

For a crash course on neurons and the brain, Bozeman Science (a Youtube series that my teacher used in AP Biology) gives a nice introductory video on the brain’s structure and function, from simple organisms to humans.

For more information about the limbic system and how it works in humans, Khan Academy made a great video outline of the limbic system (I recommend Khan Academy’s videos for all areas of the brain).

Finally, to learn about the reward pathway, Khan Academy also released an outline of reward in the brain that I recommend.

Check out my book and website recommendation pages for more reading suggestions!
The sources used for this podcast are as follows:

The Physical Signs of Puberty in Boys and Girls from the National Health Service (UK)

Breast Development and Changes from Johns Hopkins Medicine

Information about Ejaculation from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation

Sex Differences and the Role of Sex Hormones in Brain Development (Research Paper) from Nature

The Adolescent Brain as a Work in Progress from PBS

Harnessing the Learning Potential of the Adolescent Brain from KQED

Introduction to the Limbic System and Hippocampus from the UT Health System

Maturation of the Adolescent Brain (Research Paper) from Pub Med Central http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3621648/

The Adolescent Brain (Research Paper) from Pub Med Central http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2475802/

The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents by Francis E. Jensen

Age of Opportunity: Lessons from the New Science of Adolescence by Laurence Steinberg

 

Image: https://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/RV-AF827B_TEENC_G_20120127193902.jpg

 

 

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