Teenagers are perplexing, intriguing, and spirited creatures. In an attempt to discover the secrets to their thoughts and actions, parents have tried talking, cajoling, and begging them for answers. The result has usually been just more confusion. But new and exciting light is being shed on these mysterious young adults. What was once thought to be hormones run amuck can now be explained with modern medical technology. MRI and PET scans view the human brain while it is alive and functioning. To no one's surprise, the teenage brain is under heavy construction! These discoveries are helping parents understand the (until now) unexplainable teenager. Neuroscience can help parents adjust to the highs and lows of teenage behavior. Typically, this transformation is a prickly proposition for both teens and their families, but the trials and tribulations of adolescence give teenagers a second chance to develop and create the brain they will take into adulthood.
Sheryl Feinstein is associate professor at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She consults at a correctional facility for adolescent boys and at a separate site for emotionally and behaviorally disturbed adolescents in Minnesota. She is a former teacher, curriculum coordinator, and director of a high school alternative program.