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The Primal Teen: What the New Discoveries about the Teenage Brain Tell Us about Our Kidsby Barbara Strauch
Synopses & Reviews
The first book to provide a scientific explanation of the mysterious, infuriating, and downright weird behavior of teenagers.
A mother paces the living room waiting for her sixteen-year-old son to come home hours past his curfew. When he finally saunters in, he answers every question with a blank stare, dashes to his room, and slams the door. The mother, stunned and angry, thinks “It’s just hormones, right?”
Wrong. While raging hormones and an inclination toward rebellion are major players in the teenage drama, an area north of the gonads is directing the show: the brain. In The Primal Teen, Barbara Strauch examines the cutting-edge scientific discoveries that are providing vital new information about what makes teens tick.
Until recently, scientists believed the brain had largely finished its development by the teenage years. But breakthrough research by leading neuroscientists now shows that the adolescent brain is an intensely busy work-in-progress, transforming some sections, radically pruning the synaptic connections, while strengthening those connections that remain. This immense “rewiring” project provides new clues to explain the swift mood changes, out-of-character responses and reactions, and even the acts of sheer stupidity that have puzzled parents throughout history. Strauch not only sheds new light on these breakthrough findings, she shows how understanding the basis of teenage behavior can lead the way to a saner and smoother relationship between parents and their kids. Through interviews with scientists, teenagers, parents, and teachers, she explores common challenges — why teens can be so articulate and mature one day and so morose the next, why they engage in risky behavior, and why some kids struggle while others bloom — and offers practical strategies to help parents and kids manage these often difficult years.
The Primal Teen is a major step forward in deciphering and responding to the moody metamorphosis all teenagers go through.
From the Hardcover edition.
The science editor for The New York Times draws on current scientific findings to offer insight into the teenage brain, identifying the factors that contribute to adolescent behavior and how parents can use this information to promote understanding and more harmonious parent-child relationships. Reader's Guide available. Reprint. 25,000 first printing.
For anyone who has ever puzzled over the mysterious and often infuriating behavior of a teenager comes a groundbreaking look at the teenage brain written by the medical science and health editor for The New York Times. While many members of the scientific community have long held that the growing pains of adolescence are primarily psychological, Barbara Strauch highlights the physical nature of the transformation, offering parents and educators a new perspective on erratic teenage behavior. Using plain language, Strauch draws upon the latest scientific discoveries to make the case that the changes the brain goes through during adolescence are as dramatic and crucial as those that take place in the first two years of life, and that teenagers are not entirely responsible for their sullen, rebellious, and moody ways. Featuring interviews with scientists, teenagers, parents, and teachers, The Primal Teen explores common challenges–why teens go from articulate and mature one day to morose and unreachable the next, why they engage in risky behavior–and offers practical strategies to help manage these formative and often difficult years.
About the Author
BARBARA STRAUCH is the medical science and health editor of the New York Times. She previously covered science and medical issues in Boston and Houston and directed Pulitzer Prize-winning news at Newsday. She is the mother of two teenagers and lives in Westchester County, New York.
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
Crazy by design: the new science of the teenage brain — The passion within: peering into the living brain in search of normal — The age of impulse: refashioning the frontal lobes — Altered states: how experience changes the very structure of the brain — Making connections: growing and pruning toward maturity — The adolescent animal: from chimps to Chekhov — Risky business: why they do the things they do — Corny jokes and cognition: the adolescent brain starts to get it — Swept away: a surge of hormones swirling through the brain — The neurons of love: how the brain gives the heart away — Wake up! it's noon: how biology shuts off the alarm — Falling off the tracks: new dangers from old devils — Into another world: when things go wrong — Coming of age: on the path to maturity.
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