Inside a teenager’s brain 了解青少年的大腦發育過程和特點

What's going on in a teenager's brain? Takeaway English delves inside and discovers some interesting facts.

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直到最近,人們曾以為人類的大腦在幼兒時期結束時就完全停止發育了。然而,在過去的十年間,有研究表明人類的大腦從青春期開始到成年初期的這段時間內仍然在變化。本集《隨身英語》帶你走進青少年的大腦,並介紹一些與 “青春期” 有關的英語表達。

Vocabulary: adolescence 詞彙: 青春期

What were you like as a teenager? I was a nightmare. I was rude to my parents, always stayed out late, never did my homework, hung out with the wrong people and made lots of bad decisions. Apparently, this is the age when teenagers are out of control and behave badly. Maybe, if you’re a teenager now, you think this is unfair criticism or it’s not your fault. Well, you might be right!

Experts have found that it’s a teenager’s brain that is to blame. Between the ages of approximately 13 to 19 – a period known as adolescence – the brain is still developing in areas that control behaviour. This has an impact on learning and multitasking, stress and memory, sleep, addiction, and decision-making. For parents, these consequences often manifest themselves in a variety of behaviours that they may have previously blamed on hormones or just moodiness.

This is quite a new discovery, according to Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, who, speaking on the BBC radio programme The Life Scientific, says “when I was at university, the dogma in the text books was that the vast majority of brain development goes on in the first few years of life and nothing much changes after mid-childhood. That dogma is completely false.”

So our brains are still developing much later than was originally thought. Is this the perfect excuse for teenagers to lounge around and not get their homework done on time? Of course not! According to Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, it’s to do with our prefrontal cortex – that’s the part of our brain right at the front, just behind the forehead. She says “it’s involved in a whole range of very high-level cognitive tasks such as decision making and planning – we know that this region is undergoing very very large amounts of development during the adolescent years”. This is the part of the brain critically involved in planning, and, for a teenager, this hasn’t developed yet. So getting organised to do their homework, for example, can come as a bit of a challenge.

I wish I’d known about this because instead of telling my teacher I’d left my homework on the bus or that the dog had eaten it. Now I could say, “Sorry sir, my brain isn’t developed enough for the cognitive task of planning my homework”.

詞彙表

nightmare “噩夢”,棘手的人或事
out of control 失控
adolescence 青春期
multitasking 同時做多件事情
hormone 荷爾蒙
moodiness 情緒多變,喜怒無常
dogma 教條
lounge around 悠閒度日
prefrontal cortex 前額皮層
cognitive task 認知任務
adolescent 青春期的,青少年的
critically 極其地

測驗與練習

1. 閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. During adolescence, what is thought to be happening to the area of the brain that is controlling behaviour?

2. How have ideas about early brain development changed?

3. What tasks does the prefrontal cortex part of the brain affect?

4. True or false? It’s hard for teenagers to get organised because the part of the brain needed to do this is still developing.

5. Which word used in the article means ‘to become clear through signs or actions’?

2. 請在不參考課文的情況下完成下列練習。選擇一個意思合適的單字填入句子的空格處。

1. Our journey was a ______. First we got stuck in a traffic jam and then our car broke down!

dogma                 nightmare              cognitive task      out of control

2. It’s ______ important that we sign the contract today, otherwise we will lose the business.

critical                  critically                 criticaly              criticise

3. We’re blaming our son’s behaviour on his ______; it can’t be anything else can it?

adolescent           dogma                    nightmare           hormones

4. I’ve got a day off work today so I’m just going to ______ and watch TV.

lounge around      lounged around       round lounge       lounge up

5. Some businesses feel the pressure to change smoking laws has been driven more by ______ than hard facts.

moodiness            multitasking          dogma                 cognitive tasks

答案

1. 閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. During adolescence, what is thought to be happening to the area of the brain that is controlling behaviour?
Between the ages of approximately 13 to 19, the brain is still developing in areas that control behaviour.

2. How have ideas about early brain development changed?
They have changed from thinking that the vast majority of brain development goes on in the first few years of life and nothing much changes after mid-childhood, to the idea that brain development continues through adolescence.

3. What tasks does the prefrontal cortex part of the brain affect?
It affects us performing cognitive tasks such as decision making and planning.

4. True or false? It’s hard for teenagers to get organised because the part of the brain needed to do this is still developing.
True. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain critically involved in planning, and, for a teenager, this hasn’t developed yet. So getting organised to do their homework, for example, can come as a bit of a challenge.

5. Which word used in the article means ‘to become clear through signs or actions’?
The word is ‘manifest’. “For parents, these consequences often manifest themselves in a variety of behaviours that they may have previously blamed on hormones or just moodiness.”

2. 請在不參考課文的情況下完成下列練習。選擇一個意思合適的單字填入句子的空格處。

1. Our journey was a nightmare. First we got stuck in a traffic jam and then our car broke down!

2. It’s critically important that we sign the contract today, otherwise we will lose the business.

3. We’re blaming our son’s behaviour on his hormones, it can’t be anything else can it?

4. I’ve got a day off work today so I’m just going to lounge around and watch TV.

5. Some businesses feel the pressure to change smoking laws has been driven more by dogma than hard facts.

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