It’s well known that puberty affects boys physically and emotionally, but what about academically. Although there has been no evidence that a boy’s ability to learn neither improves nor diminishes as he moves into. Puberty, there is evidence that what is going on biologically does affect his brain – for better or for worse.
According to Louann Brizendine, M.D., author of the book “The Male Brain”, major hormone changes are occurring in the pubescent. Male’s brain. Two big players are testosterone, which can increase by 20-fold and feed the propensity for aggression, confidence and bravery; and vasopressin, which prompts adolescent males to try to outrank other males and aggressively protect what they perceive is theirs. I.e. territory and girlfriends.
Puberty is also a time when boys challenge authority and experience changes in auditory perception and sleep cycle, according to. Dr. Brizendine.
It’s impossible to talk about puberty without acknowledging changes in sexual interest. The heightened sexual interest of a pubescent boy combined with the new stresses he may be experiencing (thanks in part. To higher than usual levels of vasopressin) interferes with the workings of his prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that regulates attention and good judgment.
The team was in fact able to conclude that pre- and post-pubescent mice were able to perform a specific task quite well and that those in the midst of puberty were having significant difficulty performing the same task. Through more studies, the team of researchers was able to determine that the learning deficit of the pubescent mice was due to changes in the brain’s hippocampus, an area involved in remembering places and integrating other kinds of learning.
Psychologist and psychology professor Robert McGivern from San Diego University confirmed the conclusions from the SUNY team. His study showed that at the onset of puberty, males and females take significantly longer to perform a simple matching activity than their pre- and post-puberty peers. As a neglected tree, the connections in the brain also grow wild and need to be pruned for optimum potential. Puberty is the season for such pruning and organization that often makes it difficult for adolescents to process information.
So what’s a parent to do? It’s definitely the time to maintain the high standards and expectations that you have for your son, as well as the time to be patient and understanding as he moves through this difficult stage of life. Understanding that nature shares some responsibility for the changes that occur during puberty will help you and your son successfully navigate through this time of his life.
Lora Incardona has been a public school teacher since 1993 and holds master degrees in bilingual education and educational leadership. Her book, Lora the Study Coach’s Easy Study Manual, education articles and blog can be found at www.LoraTheStudyCoach.com.