32 Future Forwards: Exploring Frontiers in Education
Unintentional injuries and violence
The research clearly supports the supposition that the practice of
mindfulness and self-awareness will help adolescents make healthier
decisions4. The argument in favor of this position begins with the brain
and is twofold:
Studies confirm that there are structural and functional
differences between the brain of an adolescent and that of an
Meditation impacts the brain (even if practiced only once).
The sense of urgency and significance of this endeavor—to enhance the
decision-making of adolescents through the practice of yoga—could not
find a more powerful nudge than that offered by a study from Harvard
University and Children’s Hospital Boston which proved that “the most
tumultuous time of brain development since birth is during the
adolescent years. With advanced technology, they have been able
explore the unique structure and chemistry of the adolescent brain.”
fact, at the McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., a group of researchers
compared adolescents to adults in the perception of facial expressions.
Researchers found that each group activated a different area of the brain
to “read the emotion.” The teens mostly used the amygdala, which is
credited for instinct and gut-reaction while adults relied on the frontal
cortex and area known for reflecting and planning; clearly a very different
part of the brain.
6 Researchers confidently concluded that teen brain
circuitry is distinctly different from adults.
Daniel Siegel, MD in his book Brainstorm: The Power and the Purpose of
the Teenage Brain concurs with the research above and debunks the
myth that raging hormones cause teenagers to “go mad” or “lose their
minds.” He says, “This is simply false.” He provides evidence that
“although hormones do increase during this period that it is not the
hormones that determine adolescent behavior (which is primarily a series
of decisions being made) but the consequence of changes taking place in
the development of their brains.”