Teenage Brains Still Learning to Multitask

Because it can take years for the brain to mature, many children under age 17 continue to have difficulty with strategic thinking.

Monday August 1st - 2:00pm

Don't be too hard on your slow-as-molasses teenager - it takes longer than many parents expect for the brain to mature. So say University of Minnesota researchers, who recently tested how well adolescents used the frontal cortex (the brain region that controls behavior) when confronted with the need to juggle several pieces of information at once.

Most youngsters could handle basic multi-tasking tests. But kids under age 17 had trouble with the most difficult test, which involved searching for hidden items using strategic thinking.

"These findings have important implications for parents and teachers, who might expect too much in the way of strategic or self-organized thinking, especially from older teenagers," says lead researcher Monica Luciana, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at the university. "We need to keep their cognitive limitations in mind, especially when adolescents are confronted with demanding situations in the classroom, at home, or in social gatherings."

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