Cognitive Psychological and Brain Development in Adolescence

Adults are often puzzled by shifts they observe as children grow into adolescents. Some of the most mystifying changes occur in the ways teens think and how they process information. Adolescent thinking is frequently misjudged as argumentative, self-centered and illogical. Important developmental changes in the ways teens think help explain what we’re seeing. The first half of the course examines the ways teens think about possibilities, abstract concepts, metacognition, multidimensional thinking, and relative thinking. Significant changes in how information is processed and retained are also examined. Participants learn ways to help teens who may be confused or who struggle with changes in their cognitive abilities. The second half of the course is devoted to major changes in teen brain development including synaptic pruning and thinning, changes in brain structure and function, and the critically important role of sleep. A host of positive and negative factors that impact brain development are reviewed. Practical case examples and discussions are included throughout the day.

Topics Include:
  • Identify the five ways that thinking is different between children and adolescents
  • Describe hypothetical thinking and “Devil’s Advocate” arguments
  • Examine behaviors that model abstract concepts
  • Review metacognition, the Imaginary Audience and the Personal Fable
  • Describe the four types of attention and four types of memory
  • Define synaptic pruning and thinning
  • Discover the three most important changes to adolescent brain structure and the two most important changes to adolescent brain function.
  • Explore the importance of sleep and the concept of “Larks versus Owls”
  • Recognize some of the physical, emotional, and cognitive consequences of too little sleep for teens
  • Describe some of the ways to facilitate growth (e.g., nutrition) and minimize damage to the teen brain
Course Code