If your child has been charged with a crime, be certain that his or her criminal defense lawyer knows the following facts:
- During adolescence, the brain begins its final stages of maturation and continues to rapidly develop well into a person’s early 20s, concluding around age 25.
- The prefrontal cortex, which governs “executive functions” of reasoning, advanced thought and impulse control, is the final area of the brain to mature.
- Adolescents generally seek greater risks for various social, emotional and physical reasons, including changes in the brain’s neurotransmitters, such as dopamine which influences memory, concentration, problem-solving and other mental functions. Dopamine is not yet at its most effective level in adolescence.
- Adolescents commonly experience “reward-deficiency syndrome,” which means they are no longer stimulated by activities that thrilled them as younger children. Thus, they often engage in activities of greater risk and higher stimulation in efforts to achieve similar levels of excitement.
- Adolescents must rely heavily on the parts of the brain that house the emotional centers when making decisions because the frontal regions of their brains are not fully developed.