The Teenage Brain

Adolescence is characterised by behaviours and emotions that seem inexplicable to us as adults, from mood swings and risk-taking to peer pressure. This collection is a deep dive into what makes the teenage brain so unique.

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Talks structure30 minute lecture20 minute Q&A

3 talks in this Garden Series



Human Biology & Medicine
Psychology & Behaviour
Why are teenagers so influenced by their peers?

48 mins

Peer pressure is a powerful influence on adolescent decision-making. What is it about the brains of teenagers that makes it so important to be liked, and to go along with the crowd? Read more

Dr. Wouter van den Bos

University of Amsterdam

Wouter is based in Amsterdam, where he is Associate Professor at the Developmental Psychology Department of the University of Amsterdam, and the Director of the Connected Minds Lab - a research group focused on how we learn and how we make decisions, and particularly how these processes are affected by someone's social environment.

Wouter is also part of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development Center for Adaptive Rationality, and the Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research.

Wouter's background is in both neuroscience and developmental psychology, and his research broadly investigates the relation between the developing brain and changes in behaviour. To explore these interesting intersections, Wouter doesn't just look at the structure of the brain; he also uses computational models, social network analyses and methods from experimental economics.

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Human Biology & Medicine
Philosophy & Religion
At what age do you become responsible for your actions?

48 mins

The law has to decide at what age someone should be held accountable for their actions. What does neuroscience tell us about when that should be? Read more

Prof. Leah Somerville

Harvard University

Leah Somerville is a Professor of Psychology and Director of the Affective Neuroscience and Development Laboratory at Harvard University.

Leah's research explores how brain development through adolescence shapes the changes we see in how teenagers behave, think, make decisions and manage their emotions. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, the BBC and over 70 academic papers.

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Human Biology & Medicine
Science & Nature
Why are animals better at navigating adolescence than human teenagers?

48 mins

Humans aren't unique in having an adolescent stage, but we are pretty unique in how we react to it. Why do other species find it easier to surf the trials and turmoils of this challenging life phase than we do? Read more

B. Natterson-Horowitz, MD

Harvard University

B. Natterson-Horowitz's fascinating work at Harvard University and UCLA uses insight from the natural world to find new ways of approaching human health and development.

Studying a diverse range of animals in natural settings, B has uncovered adaptations with relevance to heart failure, sudden cardiac death, seizures, dementia, movement disorders, infertility and psychiatric conditions including anxiety, compulsive and eating disorders.

B's most recent research focuses on species-wide patterns in development across critical transitional periods of life including the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

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