Describe the developmental, social, and biological changes that a person goes through during their adolescent years. Plagiarism Declaration:
There are different developmental phases that a human being progresses through in the course of life, starting as infants and children, and then developing into adolescence, followed by adulthood and then finally old age. Each of these phases has its own distinctive psychological, social and biological characteristics which people go through in life (Mintz, 2008). This text focuses on the adolescence stage of human life which is defined by Weiten (2010) as “a transitional period between childhood and adulthood” (p. 463). In addition, Weiten (2010) states that there is no precise age for this phase but however can be estimated as starting from the age of 13 up to about 21 or 22 (Weiten, 2010). Some of the developmental, social and biological changes that this essay sets out to explore include the general development of the human body and brain and new practices that adolescents experience such as sex and drug abuse. As a result of studies that have been carried out on the development of adolescents, it is apparent that an individual experiences changes in both their psychological and physiological health. A more precise definition provided by Blenchman and Brownell (1998) states that “adolescence begins with the biological change of puberty and ends with the assumption of adult work and family roles, yielding different development ages for each young person” (p. 46). Physiological and Developmental changes
During adolescence the human body goes through drastic biological development. This includes the period when the body height and weight increases the most; this period is known as the adolescent growth spurt (Weiten, 2010). At around this stage in the development of a human being, puberty begins which is characterised in males by the emergence of things like pimples, facial and pubic hair, voice change and the physical development of muscles and body parts such as the penis and testes; in addition adolescence in males is also marked by the first occurrence of ejaculation. In females, adolescence is also characterised by pimples and pubic hair but furthermore includes the development of the breasts, more rounded body contours, the uterus, clitoris and labia; additional it is also characterised by the first occurrence of menstruation (Weiten, 2010). Adolescence is also a time of significant advancement in the behaviour of individuals, cognition and the brain. At the level of the brain, the prefrontal cortex which is the section in the front of the human brain develops the most and continues to do so throughout adolescence (Blakemore, & Choudry, 2006). Two main changes in the brain have been revealed by studies, firstly Myelin which enhances the transmission speed of the brain is formed around the developing neurons that are responsible for transmitting information. Secondly, synapses between neurons increase in density at first but then a period of synaptic elimination or pruning takes place following the increase. Research has identified that this ‘pruning’ process involves the strengthening of those connections which are used the most in the brain and the elimination of those which are used the least (Blakemore, & Choudry, 2006). In addition, the analysis of these biological changes or advancements in the human brain during puberty and so adolescence has been made more effective and detailed by the use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) which provides researchers with three-dimensional images of the living brain; In the past studies on the brain could only be carried out following the death of the subject (Blakemore, & Choudry, 2006). The brain which has two distinct hemispheres is made up of white matter and grey matter and MRI scans show that as people progress through adolescence, the density of white matter increases which reflects...
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