Teen Brain vs. Parent Brain

Ever wonder why kids exhibit a significant shift in behavior when they become teenagers? There is actually a medical explanation. Kathy says she’s concerned about her 16-year-old daughter, Kamila’s, behavior.

E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork explains that teens respond strongly to the neurotransmitter dopamine and the hormone oxytocin, which reward the brain’s pleasure and empathy systems. Learn why teens are more sensitive to rewards and less sensitive to risks than adults.

The emotional center and decision-making areas of teenage brains are still developing and become fine-tuned with experience. While a teen is capable of making correct decisions, emotions may win over reason in the heat of the moment, which can lead to poor judgment and experimentation with alcohol and drugs. Teen brains also have more receptors for drugs and alcohol to bind to, which can impact learning and memory.

It is important for parents to understand the differences between teenage brain chemistry and their own to fully understand what their child is going through and take the correct steps to guide them in the right direction.