A team of neuroscientists at San Diego State University has been working on unlocking the secret to one of life's most baffling questions: Why are teenagers like that?
They finally figured out what anybody who has ever been a teenager or anybody who has raised a teenager has long suspected: Adolescence isn't just a stage of life, it's a medical condition.
TOUGH SLEDDING ALERT: A sentence is coming up that will make your head hurt. It includes information that no one understands, but its inclusion in this column is necessary, in part to explain the conclusions of the study, but mostly to prove to my editor that I actually do some work once in a while and don't just sit around making stuff up.
"Research has shown that during puberty the connectivity of nerves in parts of the brain, particularly the prefrontal cortex, increases," says New Scientist magazine, which reported the results.
OK, you can relax now. The big words are over.
Personally, I have absolutely no idea what that sentence means. I know, of course, about the existence of the cortex. Everybody knows that it's the famous area around Bermuda where everything disappears. But I didn't know that it had a frontal, let alone a pre frontal deal going on.
Fortunately, scientists do have an idea of what that sentence means. And it means this: Teenagers are wired for weirdness.
The increase in nerve activity that teenagers experience, the study says, reduces their ability to recognize other people's emotions. "As a result, they can find emotional situations more confusing, leading to the petulant, huffy behavior adolescents are notorious for," the magazine explains.
This is obviously good news for parents. It means that, contrary to the opinion of teenagers worldwide, the way they behave is not the fault of those who raise them.