The brain is one of the most complex and fascinating organs in a person's body. It is made up of billions of neurons and other cells protected by bones of the skull and "produces enough electrical energy to power a 40-watt light bulb for 24 hours" (National Institute on Drug Abuse," 2007, p.5). The brain consists of the Prefrontal Cortex, the Motor Cortex, the Sensory Cortex, the Visual Cortex, the Broca's Area (for speech control), the Auditory Cortex, the Wernicke's Area, the Cerebellum, the Hippocampus and the "Einstein Area" (see Diagram 1).
Brain imaging and brain scanning have proven that the changes children and adolescents undergo during their formative years have a tremendous effect on their cognitive development, intellect, behavior and emotions. One area of development that has been of particular interest to psychologists, medical doctors and educators alike, is on the role that brain development plays on a teenager's ability to cope with pain, changes, new experience and growth. Learning more about how the brain grows, develops and changes over time is of great importance to researchers because it will assist them in determining ways to influence teenager's overall thinking and behavior.
According to the website MedicineNet.com (2012), "Neuroplasticity (also known as brain plasticity or brain malleability) is "the brain's ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life. Neuroplasticity allows the neurons (nerve cells) in the brain to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment." In the article Neuroplasticity and Clinical Practice: Building Brain Power for Health, author Joyce Shaffer (2016) explains how neuroplasticity can have a negative or positive influence at any age across the entire lifespan. According to Shaffer (2016), Marian Diamond, "the mother of neuroplasticity," was the first female scientist to prove that "the brain shrinks with impoverishment and grows in an enriched environment at any age" (p.2).
Researchers in the fields of psychology, sociology, youth development and medicine have all been interested in understanding how the brain development process affects children, they way they learn, change behaviors and process information. The video below affirms this theory of brain plasticity and demonstrates how neuroplasticity works.
Dr. Carol Dweck, a Stanford University professor and author of the book "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success" (2006), shares her decades of research on the topic of achievement and success and how a person's mindset influences their behavior and eventual outcome in any area of their lives. Similarly, in the book by Paul Tough titled, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character (2012), he traces the links between stress and life success and the ways in which developing qualities like perseverance, curiosity, conscientiousness, optimism and self-control can influence a child's life more heavily than their experiences with early adversity can.