Prefrontal Cortex (大脑的前额叶皮层)

The next part of the brain that we would be discussing, is the Prefrontal Cortex, otherwise known as PFC. This is the “Seat of Executive Thinking” or otherwise known as the “Brakes”. If you place your right palm on your forehead, the PFC resides just there.

The PFC is primarily responsible for the following four functions:

  • Impulse control,
  • Forward planning,
  • Consequences consideration, and
  • Decision making.

Research shows that the PFC can “control” or regulate the rapid and impulsive processing of the limbic system gradually from childhood to adulthood. This means that the impulsivity associated with the immature PFC development will slowly diminish.

Risky behavior and emotional reactivity in adolescents, are the products of a biologically driven imbalance between increased novelty and positive sensation seeking in conjunction with immature “self- regulatory competence”, which is the ability to calm down and consider consequences, before deciding on a more appropriate behavior to respond.

Take the example of an angry teenager. What do you think he or she would do in that moment of anger? She could shout, scream or become aggressive? He could pick a fight? He could pick up the nearest object and throw it? She could inflict harm on herself? By executing any of these actions, the end result is a positive sensation: when the anger is released, the teenager would feel better.

In the moment of anger, would the young person have thought about how she would want to express that anger? Would he consider the different options before deciding what to do with the anger; let alone consider the consequences of his actions?

Chances are that in the moment, the teenager may not think twice about his or her actions, due to the immature “self-regulatory competence” or developing PFC. Studies have shown how children with deficits in this area are at higher risk of school failure, dropping out, drug use, violence and crime.

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