Posted on Jul 27, 2019, 5 p.m.
According to a new study the brain may not actually reach adulthood until you are in your 30s, and may help to explain why those in their 20s are highly susceptible to mental health disorders that resolve once reaching the 30s.
Some people mentally mature faster than others, and female brains tend to undergo the maturation process earlier than male brains. Neuroscientists are not able to say when the adolescence officially ends as there is no real benchmark test. Other qualities are believed to be used for determining maturity of age such as making independent decisions, and accepting responsibility for oneself.
As published in the journal Neuron emerging adults aged 18-22 may be treated as adults by most societies but their neurobiological maturation is still not complete, testing shows that their brain function is still more close to those of 13-17 year olds than adults, according to the team.
“The reason I think it’s important to discuss this issue is because policies impacting youth have begun to pay more and more attention to the concept of neurodevelopmental maturity, so neuroscientists have begun to get engaged in these complicated discussions, such as debates about when to charge a child with an adult crime or when to permit aging out of the foster care system.” says study author Leah Somerville of Harvard University.
The prolonged state of development to maturity enables humans to learn new concepts at faster rates, but this also means that certain activities such as alcohol or drugs used at the ages while the brain is still developing could have lasting impacts.
Defining the age when a person moves from childhood to adulthood is actually a very nuanced transition according to Professor Peter Jones of Cambridge University. Legal, education, and health systems define ages for adulthood for convenience, but the professor believes people are on more of a pathway or trajectory rather than experiencing a sudden change at a particular age.
Given all this data it may well be time to reconsider certain things such as 18 year olds are legally adults, and as such are given the right to vote. As it turns out there is a perfectly logical reason why younger “adults” can be so incredibly thick: their brains are not finished developing yet. Since brains of a 18-22 year old are closer to resembling a 12 year old, perhaps a few things should be reconsidered, indeed.
Saying that not all 30 year olds or those beyond make the best choices either, but having a mature adult brain should be the first requirement for taking part in decisions that will impact all of society.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.