The Teenage Brain: How Do We Measure Maturity?

The Huffington Post:

Holden Caulfield is the archetypal American teenager. Or at least he was, way back in the 20th century. His misadventures, narrated in J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, may seem quaint by today’s standards, yet the 17-year-old reveals many of the worrisome traits that we still associate with adolescence. He acts and speaks impulsively, then regrets his actions. He is unfocused, a poor student who gets himself expelled from school. He gets into fights, drinks way too much, solicits a prostitute and gets beat up by her pimp in his seedy hotel room. The best life plan he can come up with is moving west to live as a deaf-mute. He ends up narrating his lonely story from a psychiatric bed.

Now two legal scholars offer a valuable overview of what’s known about the maturing brain, and its relevance to public policy and justice concerns. Richard Bonnie of the University of Virginia School of Law and Elizabeth Scott of the Columbia Law School make the case in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science that new scientific insights can and should guide legal decision making about teens as a group, but that it’s far too early to look for scientific assistance in individual judgments.

Read the whole story: The Huffington Post

Wray Herbert is an author and award-winning journalist who writes two popular blogs for APS, We’re Only Human and Full Frontal Psychology.

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