Teens' Brains Wired to Ignore Mom's Criticisms

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Teens' Brains Wired to Ignore Mom's Criticisms

*The following is excerpted from an online article from Headlines and Global News.

Mothers might think their teenagers willfully block them out, but science now purports teenagers' brains shut down when their mothers nag.

Forty teenagers (ages 11 through 17) were tested in a study conducted by University of Pittsburgh, California-Berkeley and Harvard neuroscientists and published in the journal Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience.

Every participant listened to two 30-second clips of their mother's voice - in one audio file, the mother talked about every day things and in the other, she criticized the teenager.

Three parts of the teenagers' brains were evaluated: the limbic system (the negative emotion processing zone), the prefrontal cortex (the zone that regulates the control of emotions) and the meeting place of the temporal and parietal lobes (empathy zone).

Scientists found that while being criticized (and for some time after), the subjects had decreased activity in the emotional and empathy zone and increased activity in the negative limbic system.

"Parents may benefit from understanding that when they criticize their adolescents, adolescents may experience strong negative emotional reaction, may have difficulty cognitively controlling this emotion and may also find it challenging to understand the parent's perspective or mental state," the study stated.

The effect of a father's voice on brain activity was not tested.

Source: HNGN