A recent study put out by Emory University looked at brain development for adolescents who engaged in risky behaviors.  In spite of previously assumed theories issuing that risky behaviors were associated with the underdeveloped adolescent brain, researchers found that from a structural standpoint, adolescents who engaged in risky behaviors actually showed more highly developed white matter.  Researchers suppose that this may be due to the increasing complexity of performing adult like behaviors and the extended adolescence American culture employs throughout the college years.  Erik Erikson believed the primary conflict of adolescence was Identity vs. Role Confusion.  As opposed to 100 years ago, when adolescents were expected to be married and raising families by their 20th birthday, 20 year olds are typically college sophmores, just deciding a major and generally figuring out what it is that they want to do with their lives.  That task of sophmore year, and the college years in general, fits in well with Erikson’s postulate on adolescence.  Because of extended adolescence, teens’ brains may mature before they have the wisdom and life experience to make healthy decisions or engage in safer risk taking (as opposed to anti-social or delinquent behaviors).

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