A Critical Evaluation of the Behavioural Outcomes of Failure of Mylination of the Prefrontal Lobe during Adolescence

Today, more than ever before, adolescence is increasingly being viewed as a transitional phase that is becoming almost uncontrollable, no matter all the efforts and strategies put in place by stakeholders. During this developmental phase, various physical, mental, emotional, psychological, and biological changes takes place to announce an individual’s transition from childhood to adulthood.

Psychologists believe that these changes must be well coordinated as failure or inadequate development of one process at the expense of the other may have long-term ramifications on the budding adult, with significant personal and societal costs (Wolfe & Mash 3). It is, therefore, the purpose of this paper to evaluate the behavioural outcome of failure or impairment of mylination of the prefrontal lobe during adolescence.

The prefrontal lobe is the anterior component of the frontal lobes of the brain, located in front of both the motor and pre-motor regions (Feinstein 43). Since the 1980s, psychologists and scientists have associated damage to the prefrontal lobe with psychopathic behavioural orientations, including the incapacity to make morally and socially suitable decisions.

This is so because this particular brain region is charged with the critical responsibilities of planning intricate cognitive actions, personality identity and expression, decision making processes, and moderating proper social behaviour (Wolfe & Mash 67). Regrettably, this forehead area of the brain is often the spot of injury, especially for adolescents engaging in sporting activities.

Various studies have revealed that “…the adolescent brain is subject to considerable structural change, most notably the prefrontal cortex” (Blakemore & Choudhury 11). This particular phase of development is also illustrated by major hormonal changes, not to mention the spectacular progressions in identity, cognitive elasticity, and self-consciousness.

Post-mortem studies undertaken in the 1980s revealed that the structure of the prefrontal lobe experiences significant changes during the phases of puberty and adolescence (Blakemore & Choudhury 12). The documented studies revealed that, as neurons develop during the adolescence phase, they generate a layer of myelin around the axon. Myelin, according to the authors, functions as an insulator, and greatly enhances the rate of “…transmission of electrical impulses from neuron to neuron” (12).

While the sensory and motor brain areas become entirely myelinated during the formative years of life, axons in the prefrontal lobe continue to be myelinated into puberty and adolescence, implying that, the transmission pace of neural information in the prefrontal lobe should progressively increase as an individual enters into adolescence.

Major behavioural problems arise as a direct result of failure of mylination of the prefrontal lobe during the adolescence phase. The individual, according to researchers, is bound to have cognitive and personality problems, not mentioning the fact that the capacity to make sound decisions and judgments is also compromised (Feinstein 45).

Murderers, rapists, and other hardcore criminals have been found with an impaired mylination of the prefrontal cortex, implying that failure of this fundamental process during adolescence facilitates sociopath behaviour later on in life. Individuals who experience such failures during adolescence repeatedly re-offend due to deficiencies in accurate and responsible decision making.

Individuals having this deficient disorder are indeed classified as mentally retarded, not because they qualify to get admittance into mental institutions, but due to their low cognitive capacities and inaccuracies of thought. In most occasions, the victims have an impaired capability to alter their attention in order to perceive the world or daily activities in a different manner.

Consecutive studies have revealed that individuals with impaired mylination have 11-15 percent less brain tissue mass in their prefrontal lobes compared to healthy individuals (Feinstein 43). As such, these people suffer from other behavioural inadequacies such as deceitfulness, feelings of remorse, antisocial behaviour, irresponsibility, and lack of or inadequate emotional depth.

It therefore follows that these people can rape and kill women without the slightest provocation due to lack of synchronization of thoughts and behaviours in accordance with the individuals’ internal goals and aspirations. In most cases, the executive function in individuals experiencing failure of mylination of the prefrontal lobe during adolescence is non-existent.

This function particularly relates to the capabilities to distinguish among conflicting actions and thoughts such as differentiating between what is good and bad, same and different, among others (Feinstein 47). As such, it is safe to conclude that failure of mylination of the prefrontal lobe during adolescence has grave behavioural ramifications.

Works Cited

Blakemore, S.J., & Choudhury, S. Brain Development during Puberty: State of Science. 2006. Retrieved 4 April 2010

Feinstein, S. Secrets of Teenage Brain: Research-Based Strategies for Reaching and Teaching Today’s Adolescents. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press.2004 ISBN: 1890460427

Wolfe, D.A., & Mash, E.J. Behavioural and Emotional Disorders in Adolescents: nature, assessment, and treatment. New York, NY: The Guilford Press. 2006. ISBN: 1593852258

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