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Emotional responses in the brain

Watch Donna Pendergast and Katherine Main explain the link between emotional responses in the brain and adolescent thinking and behaviour.

Does adolescent thinking and behaviour sometimes seem illogical, inconsistent or emotively biased? Could this be related to the major changes occurring in the adolescent brain?

This video introduces you to some of the unique aspects of the developing adolescent brain. During adolescence, the brain is undergoing rapid changes which, in turn, impact on the emotional responses of adolescents. We introduce you to concepts such as:

  • synaptic pruning
  • neuroplasticity
  • the second sensitive brain development period

We also shed some light on why it is during adolescence, more than at most other developmental stages, that people may exhibit:

  • risk taking
  • sadness
  • emotional responses
  • impulsive behaviour

After watching our video, for more insight into the teenage brain, you may like to watch the additional TEDxYouth video presented by Adriana Galván. Find a link to Dr Galván’s video in the See also section at the end of the step.

Your task

Watch Donna and Katherine’s video about emotional responses in the brain.

Reflect on the video and your understanding of cognitive and emotional development in young adolescents. To help you think creatively and consider all sides of the matter, why not try using Dr. Edward de Bono’s Plus, Minus, Interesting (PMI) method to organise your thoughts?1 List the positive (plus), negative (minus) and neutral (interesting) aspects of the information you have been presented with.

Share your reflection in the comments.


  1. The Edward de Bono Foundation. Direct attention thinking tools [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2018 Aug 23]. Available from: 

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Supporting Adolescent Learners: Social and Emotional Wellbeing

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