All of us know that during this period of the life we are unable to think about the future consequences of our acting; therefore the need of the adult guide, someone who is able to understand the implications of the acts of the young.
If well this concept is not new, the understanding of its neurobiological roots is very recent. Now we know that this adolescence period and its features, corresponds to the incomplete connections between the frontal lobe and the rest of the brain. The brain is in continuos developing after the birth, and never stops its own construction and the developing of new connections. The chilhood, is the price we have to pay as species because of having big brains (tele-encephalic structures) in contrast with species like some reptiles, that never know their parents and must be able to be auto-self for living since birth.
The frontal lobes are responsible of our controled behaviour and the future planning process (between other important functions). So if we have not the complete connections, we are unable to determine how a particular act performed in the present is able to create consequences for ourselves and for some others in the near or far future. This actitude of "lack of importance about the possible consequences" is the common feature in childhood and adolescence, and parents, while explaining about the consequences of acts, are stimulating the creation of neural connections.
Unfortunately they have a particular period in life to appear, and if well enviromental stimulation is of particular importance in their development, they do not will appear as soon as we like. They have a period in life to start developing, never before it.
Unfortunately the sexual madurity, and so the possibility of become reproductive, develops much more earlier in life that the connections with frontal lobe. So, the adolescent has the potential of change his (or hers) life, and change the life of others, by creating a newborn, and has not the complete idea about the consequences of his (or hers) acting, for himself and for the others. This is the trick of the genes.
Prof. Richard Dawkins tell us, more that 3 decades ago, that the genes do not care about our happines as individuals. The gene-trick, since its selfish point of view, consist in make reproductible machines before we are complete consciousness of our acting. This is the way reproduction has worked for millions of years and continues to do so in our species.
I was talking about this to my medical students at the Neurosciences Department of the University where I work, when I saw at the news the next headline: "This year, the 25 year anniversary of the ozone hole in our planet". So, I start to think a single question: Is it possible that as species, the human kind has an adolescent brain?
I do believe it! We have the knowledge, but even so we are unable to see the consequence of our acting over our enviroment, and so over ourselves. With overpopulation (created by the gene-trick), and the irrational explotation of natural resources (another selfish gene-trick), our future as species is not promissory. We are only thinking in the present price, and we are unable to recall, by complete, the future consequence of our acting.
We have the knowledge, but we are unable to set above an artificial system (education) over our selfish natural one. We lack, like adolescents do, of connections to our frontal lobes. Ain`t that a shame?
A selfish acting without knowledge is understandable; a selfish act with knowledge is unforgivable.
We will pay the price for our adolescent behaviour...
For my part, I`m currently leaving: I`m going to give a sample of the "day-after pill" to my 21 year old son and his girlfriend...