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July/August 2017Vol. 18, No. 5The Power of the Adolescent Brain

The video "The Power of the Adolescent Brain With Frances Jensen," produced by the Office of Adolescent Health within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is part of the TAG (Think, Act, Grow) series of videos and focuses on the development of the adolescent brain and how it affects risk and behavior, vulnerability to addiction, and mental health.

In the video, Dr. Frances Jensen of the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine explains that the brain is the last organ in the body to reach full maturity; therefore, during adolescence the brain is still developing and often does not reach full maturity until a person is in their mid- to late 20s. This development starts from the back of the brain and works its way to the front, so that the last part of the brain to reach "full connectivity" is the frontal lobe. The frontal lobe is the area of the brain that can affect impulses and risk taking, decision-making, organizational skills, judgment, and empathy—all traits and abilities that can be challenging for adolescents.

In addition, each brain region is more active during childhood and adolescence than later in life, making the capacity to learn higher when the individual is younger. However, this also means that adolescent brains are more susceptible to learning negative behaviors, such as being more vulnerable to addiction, the effects of substance use, or stress and other mental health issues. Parents and other adults can apply this knowledge toward their interactions with adolescents. 

"The Power of the Adolescent Brain With Frances Jensen" is available at