This comprehensive yet brief overview of the adolescent human brain discusses how the brain develops during this critical period of life and how that development impacts decision-making and risk-taking behavior in the adolescent.

Key Features

This originated as a white paper requested by the Canadian government for a specific group looking to understand adolescent brain development in the context of adolescent behavior. The paper was not made available to the Canadian government outside of the specific task force that requested it nor to the general public. The authors have since decided that having put so much effort into concisely summarizing research on adolescent brain development, it would be a useful addition to researchers in psychology generally. The original paper has since been updated and revised considerably.


Researchers, policy makers, and interested lay people on the development of the adolescent brain and its impact on decision making and behavior in the adolescent.  This may include developmental psychologists, cognitive psychologists, neuropsychologists, neuroscientists, and clinical psychologists.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1. Structural Brain Development in Late Childhood, Adolescence, and Early Adulthood

1.1 Introduction

1.2 Anatomical Changes

1.3 Summary

Chapter 2. Connectivity

2.1 Changes in Networks Over Childhood, Adolescence, and Young Adulthood

2.2 How are Changes in Connectivity Related to Development in the Cognitive Domain?

2.3 Implications

Chapter 3. Social and Emotional Development

3.1 The Development of Social Information Processing

3.2 Models of Social Behavior

3.3 Aggression

3.4 Individual Differences in Social Behavior: A Personality Perspective

Chapter 4. How Genes and Environment Work Together to Influence Brain Growth and Behavior

4.1 Genetic Effects on Brain Growth

4.2 A Broad Range of Experiential Factors Influence Brain Development

4.3 Implications: The Bottom Line

Summary and Implications



No. of pages:
© 2012
Academic Press
Print ISBN:
Electronic ISBN:

About the authors

Michelle Jetha

Michelle Jetha is a research associate of the Brock University Centre for Lifespan Development Research, works in the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab, and teaches at McMaster and Brock Universities. She completed her PhD in 2007, examining electrophysiological responses to social and affective stimuli in individuals with schizophrenia or autism. She has published extensively on these topics, a major review of adolescent EEG/ERP development, and most recently on how shyness influences early brain responses to emotional face stimuli. Jetha completed postdoctoral work at Pennsylvania State University which focused on the identification of trait factors that predispose children to disruptive behavioral disorders. She is currently conducting research with adolescents in collaboration with a Niagara regional mental health agency. Her focus is translational neuroscience involving developmental psychopathology.

Sidney Segalowitz

Sid Segalowitz has been a professor at Brock University since 1974, during which time he has taught in the Psychology Department and the Centre for Neuroscience and in 2007 became the founding Director of the Jack and Nora Walker Centre for Lifespan Development Research at that institution. He is also Director of the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory at Brock University and focuses his research on psychophysiological indicators of brain functions reflective of self-regulation of information and affective processing, especially as this relates to personality and development through childhood and adolescence. He has been Editor of the Elsevier journal Brain and Cognition since 2002.


"...provides an important overview of the development of the brain during adolescence…Aimed at health care practitioners, parents, college students, and more, this overview links research to real-world issues and questions in the field."- Journal of Youth and Adolescence

"Aimed at healthcare practitioners, community workers, college students, and parents, this volume summarizes the research literature on the adolescent brain and implications for social and emotional behavior, with the goal of providing an accessible overview that links research to real-world issues and controversies in the field."--Reference and Research Book News, December 2012