Dr Andrew Curran, a Paediatric neurologist, tells us about this about the adolescent brain –
Apparently the neurotransmitter Dopamine is responsible for many functions of the brain such as learning, unlearning and paying attention. Its levels are seriously low in Parkinson’s disease. So the brain cells are unable to fire impulses easily. On the other hand, stress can cause high levels of Dopamine causing too many brain cells to fire away randomly causing a chaotic state of mind. A phenomenon known as “Dopamine Surge’ takes place around the time of puberty. This is what causes young people to take high risk decisions with poor judgement. Nature has designed this so as to serve two purposes:
- Help them break free from the dependence on parents.
- Help them integrate with their peers by trial and error so that they can be successful adults.
This Dopamine Surge might also be the reason why Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Depression, Autistic spectrum disorders and addictions reveal themselves most commonly in this age bracket of adolescence/early adulthood.
A few years ago my son seemed exceptionally pleased when he came home from school one evening. It was at the height of winters and snow had been falling for a few days. “As I walked past a few boys throwing snow balls at passers by,” he said, ”one of the boys asked his friends if he should throw a snow ball at this ‘man’. They thought I was a man!” He beamed with joy.
He was my child-man. Couldn’t wait to grow up!