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Adolescent Brain Development
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Adolescent brain development is a fascinating, newly developing field that has so much to offer almost anyone interested in learning more. Adolescence has only come to be established as a unique developmental phase in the last few decades or so. We now know that the human brain undergoes dramatic developmental changes in the postnatal period, not only early after birth but also extending all the way into adulthood. These changes are not uniform, in that the brain regions undergoing the most change during adolescence are not the same as the regions that changed most in the early life period, and the processes of change also differ as we age. Some of the most important changes that we see during the adolescent period are: 1) pruning (or removal) of excessive neural connections, 2) increases in white matter, the portion of brain matter that allows different regions to communicate with one another, and 3) thinning of the cortex, which is comprised of the outer layers of brain matter. Compared with other areas of the brain, the frontal and temporal cortices undergo the most protracted changes in their structure, implying that developments in these areas play a large role in providing the foundation for adolescent behavioural changes. In this book, we compare adolescent behavioural changes with ongoing changes in the brain and discuss potential implications for health and educational policy-making.
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Table of Contents

Introduction Introduction Adolescent Brain Development Adolescent Behavior Adolescent Social Dynamics Links to Underlying Brain Development Putting it All in Context References Author Biographies

About the Author

Dr. Lisa Wright, Ph.D., is a neuroscience researcher, author, instructor, business owner, and a mother of two. She obtained her Ph.D. in psychology and neuroscience in 2011 at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Both her master's and doctoral research work was funded by the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation. Her doctoral thesis work, supervised by Dr. Tara Perrot, involved investigating the effects of adolescent stressor exposure on development of the brain, the endocrine system, and behavior, using a rat model. She then went on to study endocrine and behavioral profiles of humans in various circumstances, such as following sleep deprivation or in adolescent girls who have been diagnosed with conduct disorder. She has also taught a number of courses at Dalhousie University and Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada. Dr. Wright's business, Fit Brain Training (www.fitbrain.ca), is co-owned and operated with her longtime mentor, Dr. Perrot. Dr. Wright and Dr. Perrot have a previous contribution to this series, entitled Stress and the Developing Brain. Dr. Wright's daughters are 4 years old (Charlotte) and 1 year old (Paladina). Dr. Stan Kutcher, ONS, MD, FRCPC, FCAHS, Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health and Director of World Health Organization Collaborating Center in Mental Health Policy and Training. Dr. Kutcher is an internationally renowned expert in adolescent mental health and a national and international leader in mental health research, advocacy, training, policy, and services innovation working at the IWK Health Center and Dalhousie University. He has previously served as Department Head of Psychiatry and Associate Dean for International Health at Dalhousie University. Dr. Kutcher has received numerous awards and honors locally, nationally, and internationally for his work including: the Order of Nova Scotia; Excellence in Education Award (CACAP); a Best Doctor in Canada; Doctors Nova Scotia Health Promotion Award; Dr. John Savage Memorial Award for outstanding humanitarian contributions to global health; Canadian College of Neuropsychopharmacology Gold Medal; Lifetime Achievement Award of the Canadian Psychiatric Research Foundation, and the Ruedy Award for Innovation in Medical Education, Association of Faculties of Medicine Canada. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the Canadian Psychiatric Association and a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. He has been honored by the Canadian Psychiatric Association with the JM Cleghorn Award for his contribution to mental health research and the Paul Patterson Award for his innovations in psychiatric education. He is and has been a member of numerous boards and national organizations including the Institute of Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addictions of the CIHR; Interhealth Canada; Mental Health Commission of Canada (CYAC committee); the Canadian Society for International Health; the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research; and The Sandbox Project. He is the recipient of over 100 research grants and awards, author of more than 300 scientific papers, and the author/co-author of numerous medical textbooks. Locally, he contributes to the work of Laing House, Immigrant Services and Integration Services, and the Boys and Girls Clubs. Internationally he has been involved in mental health work in over 20 countries. One of his recent projects was leading the development of a national child and youth mental health framework for Canada: Evergreen. Currently, his focus is on knowledge translation pertaining to improving mental health literacy and mental health care in schools and primary care as well as the development, application, and evaluation of electronic youth mental health engagement, self-care and personal health record. He continues his innovative youth mental health development and research across Canada, and globally including China, South America, Latin America, and Africa.

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