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The gift and the trap : working the "Teen Brain" into our concept of youth

Sercombe, H. (2010) The gift and the trap : working the "Teen Brain" into our concept of youth. Journal of Adolescent Research, 25 (1). pp. 31-47. ISSN 0743-5584

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Abstract

Progressive developments in scanning technologies over the last decade have led to a surge of new research into the structure and function of the brain and into differences between the brains of teenagers and other adults. This work has not been free of controversy, notably around the question of deficits in the capacity of young people concerning risk-taking behavior. In a previous article, Michael Males mounted a challenge to this body of work, arguing that it exaggerated the propensity of young people to take risks and ignored the impact of external contextual and sociological factors. In responding to Males's article, this article not only supports his concern about deficit models of adolescence but also explores the way that the new brain science takes us beyond the century-old binary between biological determinism and social constructionism. It calls for renewed scholarly effort to develop theory and discourse that will allow us to think about young people's responses in terms of the interaction between biology, experience and social context, and individual agency.