I have read everywhere that the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed until about the mid twenties, but everyone's brain develops differently. Is it possible for a teens prefrontal cortex to be significantly more developed than it should be at this age?
In the last 20 years or so, a growing amount of neuroimaging research has demonstrated that adolescence is a period of continued brain growth and change, challenging longstanding assumptions that the brain was largely finished maturing by puberty (Giedd, et al. 1999; Sowell, et al. 1999; Sowell, et al. 2001; Johnson, et al. 2009).
Several major morphological and functional changes occur in the human brain during adolescence (Giedd, et al. 1999), and the maturation of the adolescent brain is influenced by (among other things) heredity, environment, nutritional status, sleep patterns, and sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone), which play a crucial role in myelination (Arain, et al. 2013). Full development and maturation of the prefrontal cortex is generally believed to occur at roughly 25 years old, however, Sowell, et al. (2003) found a subtle increase in grey matter density until age 30, which remained stable until a steep decline in later decades.
A detailed study is required in order to determine the exact biomarkers involved, as well as the intricate influence of diet, drugs, sex, and sleep on the maturation of the adolescent brain as discussed briefly in this report (Arain, et al. 2013).
Despite the fact that brain development may be done by our 30s, it doesn’t mean that someone with a fully developed brain cannot change it. There is considerable evidence to suggest that we can still change our own brains with a process called neuroplasticity. Our brains are constantly adapting to our environment, experiences, and other inputs to which it is exposed.
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