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Cognitive development encompasses “many different skills developing at different rates along various trajectories toward unique developmental endpoints and interacting and integrating with one another to produce complex behavior.” It represents changes in one’s ability to think, reason, and extract meaning from experiences encountered in multiple contexts and social relationships. There are a wide variety of factors, both environmental and biological, that can influence cognitive development in teens. Biological factors are internal processes such as genetic conditions, neurological, chemical, physiological, and physical. Some of the major biological factors that affect teenage cognitive development include:

  1. Nutrition: Proper nutrition is a vital factor in an adolescent’s overall development. A balanced diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats is fundamental to the development of a youngster’s brain and body. Deficiencies in essential nutrients may lead to restricted growth and impede cognitive development
  2. Prenatal factors: Illness, injury, or harmful events during the prenatal or the perinatal stage can affect linguistic development.
  3. Genetics: Heredity is the biological process of the passing on of traits from parents to their offspring. It strongly influences many aspects of the physical appearances of children (e.g., height, weight, body structure, eye color, hair texture, etc.) and can determine other features such as innate intelligence and aptitude skills. Certain diseases (e.g., heart problems, diabetes, obesity, blood pressure abnormalities, etc.) are also known to transmit through genes
  4. Hormones: Different glands located in specific parts of the body secrete hormones that control body functions. Typical physical growth and development in adolescents relies on timely functioning and proper secretion of these hormones. Imbalances in the functioning of hormone-secreting glands may result in growth defects, obesity, behavioral problems, and other diseases. The endocrine system, which is made up of a complex network of organs and glands, relies on hormones to coordinate and control the body’s metabolism, reproduction, energy levels, growth, and development, as well as response to injury stress and/ or mood, all of which can be influenced by the hormonal shifts that occur throughout adolescence. 
  5. Brain function: The pre-frontal cortex of the brain is not yet fully formed until a person reaches age twenty-five, at the earliest. This is the area of the brain that reigns rational thought, impulse control, executive planning, problem solving, decision-making, and more. Since the pre-frontal cortex of teenagers is underdeveloped, teens innately rely on the amygdala. The amygdala is the area of the brain that governs one’s emotions, impulsivity, emotional behavior, and motivation responsible for emotions. Hence, brain development can influence a teenager’s ability to think critically, plan-ahead, and effectively regulate emotions.

Further Information and Support

For most of us, life can be very stressful, leading us to feel emotionally charged, which can cause anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and getting stuck in a cycle of being burdened with negative thoughts. Navigating through the challenges and emotional turmoil of life can be overwhelming, but you do not have to go through it alone. Engage Treatment is a Joint Commission Accredited professional psychological practice. We specialize in treating children, teens, and young adults struggling with depression and anxiety through community-focused treatment plans that incorporate a carefully selected combination of therapeutic interventions. Our compassionate, multidisciplinary practitioners are devoted to providing the highest quality of care that helps ignite positive change and enables clients to reach optimal health and well-being. Please do not hesitate to reach out for guidance. We are happy to answer questions and provide you with any additional information. Feel free to call us at 805-497-0605 or email us at [email protected]. You are also welcomed to get in touch by filling out our contact form. We look forward to connecting and having the opportunity to discuss how we might best be able to support you.

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