Message from the Founder
Ever since I was in middle school, I have been very passionate about anatomy and medicine, especially in the field of neuroscience. And because of my love for neuroscience, I spent a considerable amount of time reading more about brain anatomy and physiology. In my research, I came across the developing adolescent brain. I was just 14 at the time and as a young teenager, I realized how fortunate I was to know about the changes that my brain is going through during this critical time period as it helped me become much more cognizant of my reckless and impulsive behaviors. Most of my fellow teenagers, however, are unaware of the neural transformations that take place during adolescence. I believe that if we are all educated about the changes that our brains are going through during this critical era, we will be better equipped to handle the struggles of teenagedom, to avoid the stressful peer pressure and the heightened self consciousness while being able to enjoy these young years in a manner that will be constructive to neurodevelopment.
Please join me in this effort!
FROM FOUNDER, SHIVEK NARANG
Adolescence is a critical period in development as the brain is completely revamped, with changes in the neural circuitry and in the connection between multiple pathways.
There is a natural imbalance in the rate of development of these neural circuits. For example the dominance of our limbic system, which controls our emotions, tends to develop much faster toward the beginning of adolescence while the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for rational decision making. This leads to teenagers using their emotions to make decisions, instead of using their head and thinking.
As a teenager myself, I am experiencing first hand the effects of the developing brain. Having been interested in neuroscience for quite a while, the neural changes during adolescence caught my attention as I started to read more about the rise in teenage depression and mental health problems.
If teenagers were more aware of these changes that their brains were going through, they would be better prepared to combat the dangers of adolescence. This makes sharing information about the teenage brain to our community vital.
By sharing this knowledge, I hope to help teenagers all throughout the world handle the mystery that is adolescence.
Our organization has been giving talks to teenagers and caregivers in public schools and youth forums throughout the bay area, hosting sessions where topics such as neuro-anatomy, the importance of friendship, and peer pressure are all discussed. As our organization spreads outwards to share this knowledge throughout the entire nation, we hope that with this new information, teenagers will think twice before succumbing to peer pressure or making an impulsive decision.
Our organization has been raising funds for organizations supporting mental health for students.
YEARS SERVING COMMUNITIES
Our organization has been running for the last four years, with our presentations helping make a difference in the teenage community.
By presenting at schools, youth assemblies and organizations, our organization has helped make a difference in the lives of over 5000 teenagers.
The Effect of the Teenage Brain on Behavior
Adolescence is a time of significant growth and development inside the teenage brain. Because the prefrontal cortex is still developing, teenagers rely on amygdala (center for emotions) to make decisions and solve problems more than adults do. While the prefrontal cortex (area for planning, decision making and moderating social behavior) is still not fully developed, teenagers undergo major changes in their limbic system (the area of the brain that controls emotions). Doctors now believe that this difference in timing of development of the prefrontal cortex causes the risk-taking and impulsive behaviors which are rather common among teenagers. Teenagers tend to make decisions based on their emotions rather than logic.
The teenage years are the years when our brains are most malleable and adaptable to be changed, whether it be helping us learn all the countries and capitals in Europe for a history test, or by making us more susceptible to be influenced by peers into taking drugs and alcohol that can have a profound impact on a person for their whole life. The teenage brain is also marked by development, especially in the prefrontal cortex, a region which codes for decision making and emotions, making teenagers like us the most moody and unfortunately sometimes boneheaded when it comes to making the right choice. We are susceptible to peer pressure, school pressure, and the struggles of trying to fit in society. This is a lot to handle and it can often lead to mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
We know that on a grand scale, teenagers suffer from mental health problems but when it comes to each child, individually, we sometimes fail to overlook some of the key signs of their anxiety, mistaking it to be “just a teenage thing”. This stigma leads some people to overlook teenage mental health problems and often convinces the teenagers that there is nothing wrong with them and that help is not needed. Or there may be cases where the individual is simply too embarrassed to share what they are going through and seek help.
Our goal at Our Teen Brains is to help reduce this stigma by sharing with others the neuroscience behind the teenage years and explaining that oftentimes, the development of the brain causes the wide variety of (often negative) emotions that teenagers display and that they are susceptible to mental health diseases. It is extremely important to understand how brain development and growth impacts the way teens behave and act.
By raising awareness and explaining the neuroscience behind what happens, teenagers as well as their caretakers will be able to understand the the struggles they are going through. This further raises awareness about the teenage brain and mental health disorders that would help us navigate society with positive interactions.