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Why The Teen Years Are Troubled: It's All In Their Brains!

Earlier this year, I told you about how your brain can adapt and change based on how you perceive a drug may or may not work. Changes in the brain may also explain problems during the adolescent years too, according to a new study.

The ability of teens to discern social cues and recognize emotions -- especially sadness and anger -- drops between ages 12-14, scientists said, so your kids may not be actively planning to ignore you after all... In fact, at that time in their lives, their brains may not be able to detect subtle emotional cues from older people or read them correctly.

During the study, children (ages 6-16) were asked to do things like remembering faces, determining emotions and establishing eye contact by reviewing images of faces expressing differing emotions. Interestingly, girls at age 6 were better at discerning emotions and social cues than boys. By the time, children reached puberty, however, the ability of both sexes to determine those same emotional states fell noticeably (making me wonder if this may be affecting teens struggling with weight issues too).

The good news: Once the hormonal changes associated with puberty passed, the problem vanished as well by age 16 or 17.

MSNBC September 8, 2005

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