Describe the development of the frontal lobes. Review the executive functioning skills and tie them to frontal lobe development. How might the development of the frontal lobes explain poor judgment, erratic behaviors, and impulsive actions seen in adolescents?
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The most general executive function of the lateral prefrontal cortex is the temporal organization of goal-directed actions in the domains of behavior, cognition, and language. This region of the brain may not be fully developed until a person’s thirties (Johnson & Geidd, 2009). The frontal lobe controls important cognitive skills like emotional expression, problem solving, memory, language, judgement and sexual behaviors (Hoffmann, 2013). Delayed frontal lobe development in children could be the reason that they exhibit poor judgement, erratic behaviors, and impulsive actions even impacting them into adolescence. Additionally, children who may have had frontal lobe damage may exhibit these symptoms as well.
Interestingly, children with ADHD showed roughly a 2 year delay in cortical surface development and in the pre-frontal cortex when compared to normally developing children (Krystal, 2012). This has researchers debating whether ADHD is due to a delay in brain development or if it is the result of complete deviation from typical development. Perhaps this delay in development can contribute to mood irregularity and erratic behavior, out of frustration of not being on par with the development of their peers.
Hoffmann M. (2013). The human frontal lobes and frontal network systems: an evolutionary, clinical, and treatment perspective. ISRN neurology, 2013, 892459. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/892459
Johnson, S. B. & Giedd, J. N. (2009). Adolescent maturity and the brain: the promise and pitfalls of neuroscience research in adolescent health policy. The Journal of adolescent health : official publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine, 45(3), 216–221. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2009.05.016
Krystal, J. (2012). Brain Development is Delayed in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Biological Psychiatry.
The frontal lobe of the brain is in charge of thoughts and actions such as; walking speaking, problem-solving, reasoning, and emotions. The development of the frontal lobes takes years to develop. New functions keep getting added throughout childhood/adolescence (Shaffer & Kipp, 2014).
Researchers believe that delayed frontal lobe development explains why some adolescents use poor judgment, poor impulse control, and engage in risky behavior. The prefrontal region of the brain controls executive functions and they are in charge of planning, organizing, focusing, remembering, and emotional responses (Brown, 2013). The amygdala part of the brain is responsible for gut reaction and heightened arousal, while those changes happen, the tissue around the nerves grow in the frontal brain. These tissues, (myelin), create links to different parts of the brain and sends signals based on one’s experiences. The brain is not fully operational until the connections are complete. When the connections are complete, adolescents obtain the ability to control impulses and erratic behavior (Shaffer & Kipp, 2014).
Brown, E. (2013). A new understand of adhd in children and adults: executive function
impairments. New York: Routledge.
Shaffer, D.R. & Kipp, K. (2014). Developmental Psychology: Childhood & Adolescent (9th ed.).
Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.