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The Teenage Brain  By  cover art

The Teenage Brain

By: Frances E. Jensen,Amy Ellis Nutt
Narrated by: Laurence Bouvard,Amy Ellis Nutt
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Publisher's Summary

Why is it that the behaviour of teenagers can be so odd? As they grow older, young children steadily improve their sense of how to behave, and then all of a sudden, they can become totally uncommunicative, wildly emotional and completely unpredictable.We used to think that erratic teenage behaviour was due to a sudden surge in hormones, but modern neuroscience shows us that this isn't true.

The Teenage Brain is a journey through the new discoveries that show us exactly what happens to the brain in this crucial period, how it dictates teenagers' behaviour, and how the experiences of our teenage years are what shape our attitudes, and often our happiness in later life.

Many of our ideas about our growing brains are completely re-written. They don't stop developing at the end of our teens - they keep adapting until we are in our mid-twenties. They are wired back to front, with the most important parts, the parts that we associate with good judgement, concentration, organization and emotional and behavioural control being connected last of all.

The Teenage brain is a powerful animal primed for learning, but this creates problems. Addiction is a form of learning, and Frances Jensen, Professor of Pediatric Neurology at the teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School reveals exactly what lies behind all aspects of teenage behaviour and its lasting effects - from drugs, lack of sleep and smoking to multi-tasking and stress.

As a mother and a scientist, Professor Jensen offers both exciting science and practical suggestions for how parents, teens and schools can help teenagers weather the storms of adolescence, and get the most out of their incredible brains.

©2015 Frances E. Jensen (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic Reviews

"Dr. Jensen uses her considerable expertise as a neuroscientist and a mother to explain the recent explosion of adolescent brain research and how this research can help us better understand and help young people. This book also highlights biologically inherent opportunities to enhance the health and well-being of young people during the second decade of life… opportunities we should not be missing." (Carol A. Ford, M.D. President, Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine; Professor of Paediatrics, University of Pennsylvania; and Chief, Division of Adolescent Medicine at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia)
"Jensen has brilliantly translated academic science and clinical studies into easily understandable chapters to highlight the many changes in connections and plasticity of the brain. The book is a ‘must read' for parents, teachers, school nurses, and many others who live with or interact with teens. Understanding the susceptibility of the brain to drugs and stressors is not presented as an excuse but rather as a new framework for readers to approach parenting or teaching with more science and more evidence-based, practical advice." (S. Jean Emans, MD. Chief, Division of Adolescent/Young Adult Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital; Professor of Paediatrics, Harvard Medical School)

What listeners say about The Teenage Brain

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Don't waste your money

Not a book for simple people , I got nothing out of this book even though I tried really hard to understand.

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  • Jonny Matthew
  • 02-12-16

A must-read book for brain info junlies...

Would you listen to The Teenage Brain again? Why?

A must-read book for brain info junkies. Here's why...

STRENGTHS...

- This is a very interesting book for people with a fascination about the detailed working of the teenage brain. Packed full of really interesting neurological stuff!

- Different areas of the brain are covered in some detail but without the inaccessible medical language that makes some books unreadable to the lay person. Clear and well written.

- There is a logical order to the book which reads like a natural progression of chapters, each leading to the next.

- There are chapters specific to certain issues that teenagers face - like use of alcohol and drug use - these are enlightening (I'll go back and look at these again in more depth as the need arises)!

- A detailed analysis of the interface between brain science and the criminal justice system is given, raising ethical questions for sentencing (U.S. context).

WEAKNESSES...

- Despite the thorough nature of the content from a scientific and medical point of view, there is precious little by way of practical help. It's less of a survival guide (see the subtitle) and more of a reference/information guide to the workings of the brain itself.

- The book is written by an American so this needs to be born in mind by UK and other readers as the illustrations, historical references and criminal justice system referred to are all U.S. focussed.

- Many of the examples are of high-flying young people - phrases like "star student," "Grade "A" pupil" and "Harvard student" abound and dilute the impact of otherwise useful illustrations.

- There are woeful inaccuracies about the U.K. educational system. The most glaring of which is the belief that the 11-plus exam still determines the secondary education of U.K. children.

- No treatment of the impact of developmental trauma or poor attachment on development.

SUMMARY...

Not for those looking for practical "how to" solutions. Technical and accessible. A definite for those working with troubled young people - or those parents who want more info on the inner-workings of the teen/s they love!

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  • Beata
  • 01-31-15

Love every minute of this book.

Excellent source of information for all parents of teenagers. I'm glad I read it.

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  • Gabe Fleming (Audible staff)
  • 01-11-22

A brilliant guide to teenagerdom

This book delivered exactly what it promised: a mix of experience, example and science to explain what to do, and what not to do, in guiding parents and their not-so-little terrors through the formative years.

The book had an immediate effect on me: I am more patient because I understand that what can seem like willful ignorance and obnoxiousness is, in fact, completely normal behaviour. Spoiler alert: tweens and teens literally do not have the brain faculty to do some of the things we expect of them. Parents getting irritated at kids' disproportionate reactions to minor setbacks, or their inability to follow instructions, is understandable but not really fair or effective.

One personal bugbear is that the author is a little smug, unnecessarily ramming her qualifications and perfectly raised sons into the narrative. To summarise, one of the sons once crashed a car as a young teen, but as a parent and role model and scientist she then raised him perfectly, so he never put another foot wrong, went to Harvard and traveled the world helping needy kids. Or something like that. Personally, I prefer a warts-and-all style, but this is not to distract from the wisdom on offer. Also, an excellent point about education is illustrated by citing England as a sort of Dickensian throwback where poor 11-Plus exam results categorically bar kids from further education once they finish mandatory school. This is not true and should have been checked.

To end on less cynical note: this book is indispensable. If you have teenagers, listen to it.

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  • Jay Bonner
  • 12-27-19

Read/ Listen Critically

I am about halfway through this audiobook and feel compelled to write this review as I find it concerning how much correlational research is presented by the author as if it is causational. Especially as this appears targeted towards the lay person.

I can imagine many parents reading this book and behaving towards their teens in potentially damaging ways due to the way the research is presented.

Having said that, there is a lot of fascinating content which is clearly described, so this is a great read for the critical reader.

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  • Mark.Lillico
  • 02-16-18

Interesting facts and food for thought

I liked the first few chapters where the science of the teenage brain is discussed and how it manifests in behaviors.
Much of the book has anecdotes and " a friend of mine had a son who..." type stories which were interesting but felt like gossip. At one point an HBO show is cited as if its existence is scientific commentary itself. The British education system is also incorrectly described.

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  • Keith Binding
  • 12-31-16

Fascinating, accessible & very important insights

An incredibly useful and accessible insight in to leading-edge research in to the development of the teenage brain. Highly recommended.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Joanne
  • 12-05-21

Raising and teenager, definitely requires more understanding

Having raised one teenager now young man so smoothly nothing prepared me for raising my Daughter through these years.
This book has been so insightful and helped me understand how our brains develop.
I will definitely be using this information to help explain to her why she’s making some tricky mistakes.
Interestingly looking back at my sons years he struggled with uni life and taking a year out helped him mature and find his way.

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  • R. Harvey
  • 06-22-17

Very informative, a lot of science!

Really good book, there is a lot of research backing up,the author's suggestions and explanations of the teenager brain development.

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  • S. Nanra
  • 10-03-16

very useful resource

a little preachy and sentimental at times, but a great deal of useful information on the development of the teen brain.

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  • IainM
  • 11-28-22

The most depressing book i have ever listened to

I mean no disrespect to Dr Jensen. She is clearly passionate about a subject that is very close to every parent's heart and for that I commend her. She writes with authority and there is no question about the validity of what she is saying. I wanted so much to love this book but I found it impossible to engage with or relate to. Dr Jensen explains with astonishing detail the structure of the adolescent brain and in doing so creates chapters upon chapters of polysyllabic medical terminology that is nearly impossible to digest in an audiobook. At times it felt like someone was reading an anatomy textbook to me. I am a normal person who enjoys details but I do not have a medical degree and I simply could not follow along. Once the anatomy lesson was complete, she goes through an exhaustive list of every conceivable option that could cause harm or screw up your teenager for life. I kept wondering 2 things - how do teenagers even get out the door in the morning and given that teenagers have been around since the dawn of humanity - how has the human race actually survived? This book is for people who want to understand the medical reasons that drive teenagers' behaviour. If you are wanting hints and tips on everyday solutions, then this is not the book for you.

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  • Ms. M. J. Picot
  • 04-06-18

a must read for all parents, highly recommended

a must read for all parents preferably before teenage years but also very beneficial during! a real wealth of knowledge and data. highly recommended

1 person found this helpful