Science Figures Out Why Teenagers Are Stupid

Science Figures Out Why Teenagers Are Stupid

While average blog readership is packed with the sort of hyper intelligent teenagers that have to be portrayed by 30-year-olds in TV dramas, many of the world’s teenagers are prone to doing stupid things for stupid reasons. New research explains why.

Dr Sarah-Jayne Blakemore and colleagues from the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University College London have determined through grown-up scientific research that the brains of teenagers and young adults have more in common with those of much younger children than those of mature adults.

Our brains contain grey matter, which houses the cell bodies and connections that carry messages through the brain. They taught this in high school science, but many of us were too busy napping or reading science fiction novels to absorb this knowledge.

One would think that more grey matter equals more brain power. This is not the case. Imagine the brain as a shopping mall. In a small shopping mall, it’s easy to keep track of all the stores. You know where The Gap is, and you know the best place to park in order to get there. Add a bunch of extra square footage to the shopping mall, and suddenly The Gap is much further away, and you’ve got a much better chance of being distracted by something shiny in the window of Hot Topic or getting waylaid by the guy selling cell phone fobs out of that pathetic little wooden cart in the middle of the mall corridor.

In short, more grey matter means more room for mistakes and a sharp decline in efficiency.

As we grow older, we lose grey matter, but it's not so much a loss as it is a honing. Our brains shrink, becoming more efficient, and (hopefully) less prone to doing stupid things.

It was previously believed that our brains reached full development in our teens. Now science and common sense have proven that belief wrong. Whatever. We were such dorks back then.

Blakemore and her team used MRI scans to monitor the brain activity in 200 volunteers aged seven to 27 as they attempted to perform a simple task.

All they had to do was run through the alphabet mentally or with letters on a computer screen while simultaneously deciding whether or not the letters contained a curve, ignoring the letters without curves.

I didn't follow any of that, but that's because my brain has been finely honed to not understand what just happened.

The results of the tests suggested that the human brain continues to develop far past the teenage years, with the cognitive abilities of the test subjects improving with age.

The prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain that deals with multi-tasking and decision making. A large amount of activity in the prefrontal cortex of the teenage subjects suggested that their brains were working harder to process the information, activity that scientists were only expecting to find in younger children.

Dr Blakemore says that this extra prefrontal activity is indicative of chaotic thought patterns in teens, generating excess work.

Blakemore said the research shows "there is simply too much going on in the brains of adolescents" for them to concentrate on the task at hand. That means resources and energy in the brain are wasted, which has a negative effect on decision-making.

And that's why teenagers have trouble concentrating, making decisions, and avoiding shouting "Wooooooo!" whenever they see something really cool. For those of us far past our teenage years, this explains why we turn red and hide our faces every time we remember high school and early college.

Of course none of this applies to video gamers. We've honed our brains to razor sharpness, no matter the age.

Hopefully this article is long enough that anyone who'd actually be offended by it has lost interest and wandered off.

Teenagers cannot concentrate because their brains are undeveloped []


  • All we need now is to get a study done to explain why people are twats when they have the anonymity of the internet and more importantly how to STOP it

    • you know how in sim-city you would burn the city you were managing to the ground, but in real life as a town planner you wouldn’t? you know how in GTA, you would drive your car as fast as possible down the wrong side of the road just to see the horrible accident in slow-mo, but in real life, you, err probably wouldn’t?

      to many, the internet is “Socializing: the video game”, many are also teenagers, see above.

  • I don’t trust the younger generation with the future. Each year there seems to be less of the responsible ones and more of the ones who just want to drink, take drugs and fight.

    • I see it as well, the young ones learn off the older ones that these things are what we’re supposed to be doing. And then they teach the ones younger than them. Basically it doubles each time or something until we have reverted into a primate-like society. Hopefully that doesn’t happen. But if it does, I’d be happy for aliens to come down and wipe us off the map.

  • To be fair there are also hormonal effects which kinda screw up the thinking process as well. Basically teens have a lot of shit on their mental plates.

    No one understands them 🙁

  • Of course teenagers are stupid, disrespectful m***erf***ers. As a matter of fact, this world would be a much better place if all of them were lined up against the wall and shot.

  • I am a teenager. I get excellent grades in school, I have respect for parents and elders, I am focused on my education and am getting really frustrated about all the media portraying us as drug addicts, reckless drivers and idiots. Don’t worry about the future. The 70% of stupid, foolish, disrespectful teenagers will do the pathetic jobs in life like McDonalds, Wallmart, Target and other crappy jobs. Either that or they will overdose, crash their cars, drink too much or get stabbed, shot or taken out in gang attacks. The other 30% will become doctors, judges, political leaders and entrepeneurs. All we ask is that you don’t continue to portray these pathetic stereotypes the media portray us as.

  • Kids do not fear anything in society any more. They want there parents to take blame for there foolish acts. They need to learn responsibility and be held accountable for there own actions. They need put in there place and if they are not going to school, they need to go to juvenile hall and be held until they learn the ways of life. I’m tired of people blaming the parents, the kids need taught wrong from right and if you want to make babies go get a damn job you worthless little punks. My taxes doesn’t need to be paid out to you and your food stamps. GET A JOB! Social security won’t be around when I retire because of you baby makers!!!!!!

  • You might think that you become fully mature when you turn 21 but new research suggests that your brain does not stop developing until your late 40s. Until about 10 years ago we pretty much assumed that the human brain stopped developing in early childhood!!!!

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