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Physical and Cognitive Development in Adolescence


CHAPTER 9 Physical and Cognitive Development in Adolescence – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Physical and Cognitive Development in Adolescence

Chapter 9
  • Physical and Cognitive Development in Adolescence

The Nature of Adolescence
  • Adolescence is a transitional period with
    continuity and discontinuity with childhood
  • Not just a time of rebellion, crisis, pathology,
    and deviance
  • More accurately, it is of a time of evaluation,
    decision making, commitment, finding a place in
    the world
  • Ethnic, cultural, gender, socioeconomic, age, and
    lifestyle differences influence the actual life
    trajectory of every adolescent

The Nature of Adolescence
  • Adolescents are exposed to complex options
    through the media
  • They face the temptations of drug use and sexual
  • Too many adolescents are not provided with
    adequate opportunities and support to become
    competent adults

  • Puberty is not the same as adolescence
  • most important marker of the beginning of
  • puberty ends long before adolescence does
  • Puberty -- period of rapid physical maturation
    involving hormonal and bodily changes
  • Puberty is not a single, sudden event
  • the most noticeable changes are signs of sexual
    maturation and increases in height and weight
  • Primary sex characteristics
  • Secondary sex characteristics

Order of Male Pubertal Changes
  • Increase in penis and testicle size
  • Appearance of straight pubic hair
  • Minor voice change
  • First ejaculation (which usually occurs through
    masturbation or a wet dream)
  • Appearance of kinky pubic hair
  • Onset of maximum growth in height and weight
  • Growth of hair in armpits
  • More detectable voice changes
  • Growth of facial hair

Order of Physical Changes in Females
  • Breasts enlarge
  • Pubic hair appears
  • Hair appears in the armpits
  • Height increases and hips become wider than
  • Menarche, first menstruation, irregular and
  • Voice changes not comparable to males
  • By the end, breasts become more fully rounded

Weight and Height and the Growth Spurt
  • Girls tend to outweigh boys early in adolescence
  • At the beginning of adolescence, girls tend to be
    as tall as or taller than boys of their age
  • The mean age at the beginning of the growth spurt
    in girls is 9 and for boys, the mean age is 11

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Hormonal Changes
  • Hormones -- powerful chemical substances secreted
    by the endocrine glands and carried through the
    body by the bloodstream
  • Puberty is an interaction of the hypothalamus,
    the pituitary gland, and the gonads
  • Gonads -- the testes and ovaries -- are
    particularly important

  • Testosterone -- hormone associated in boys with
    the development of genitals, an increase in
    height, and a change in voice
  • Estradiol is a type of estrogen
  • in girls it is associated with breast, uterine,
    and skeletal development
  • Testosterone and estradiol are present in the
    hormonal makeup of both boys and girls
  • The hormone-behavior link is complex
  • Direct effects on emotions
  • Indirect effects on emotions

Timing and Variations in Puberty
  • The timing of puberty
  • Sex, genes, and weight
  • Menarche
  • Spermarche
  • The average age of menarche has declined
    significantly since the mid-19th century
  • Basic genetic program for puberty is wired into
    the species
  • nutrition, health, and other environmental
    factors also affect pubertys timing and makeup
  • Average age for the pubertal sequence to begin is
    between 10 to 13.5 for boys and 9 to 15 for girls
  • Stress
  • Too early too late

Early and Late Maturation
  • Adolescents who mature earlier or later than
    their peers perceive themselves differently
  • Early maturation in girls increases vulnerability
    to problems
  • more likely to smoke, drink, be depressed, have
    an eating disorder, struggle for earlier
    independence from their parents, have older
    friends, date, and earlier sexual experiences

Body Image  
  • Adolescents are preoccupied with their bodies and
    develop images of what their bodies are like
  • Girls are less happy with their bodies and have
    more negative body images than boys throughout
  • Boys become more satisfied as they move through
    puberty, probably because their muscle mass
  • (Bearman others, 2006)

Brain Development
  • Adolescents brains undergo significant
    structural changes
  • corpus callosum -- thickens and this improves
    ability to process information
  • prefrontal cortex doesnt finish maturing until
    18 to 25 years of age or later
  • amygdala -- the seat of emotions such as anger --
    matures earlier than the prefrontal cortex

Adolescent Sexuality
  • A time of sexual curiosity, exploration and
    experimentation, of sexual fantasies and
    realities, of incorporating sexuality into ones

Developing a Sexual Identity
  • Involves learning to manage sexual feelings (such
    as sexual arousal and attraction) and developing
    new forms of intimacy
  • Learning skills to regulate sexual behavior to
    avoid undesirable consequences
  • Sexual identity involves activities, interests,
    styles of behavior, and an indication of sexual
    orientation -- whether an individual has same-sex
    or other-sex attractions
  • (Buzwell Rosenthal, 1996)

The Timing of Adolescent Sexual Behaviors
  • The timing of sexual initiation varies by
    country, gender, or socioeconomic characteristics
  • Many early adolescents are not emotionally
    prepared to handle sexual experiences
  • Early sexual activity is linked with risky
    behaviors such as drug use, delinquency, and
    school-related problems
  • Low parental monitoring was linked with early
    initiation of sexual activity

Contraceptive Use
  • Two kinds of risks accompany sexual activity
  • Unintended, unwanted pregnancy
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Both can be reduced significantly with
    contraception use
  • Many sexually active adolescents still do not
    use contraceptives, or they use them
  • Younger adolescents are less likely to take
    contraceptive precautions

Sexually Transmitted Infections  
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) --
    infections contracted primarily through sexual
    contact, including oral-genital and anal-genital
  • annually, more than 3 million American
  • about one-fourth of those who are sexually
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008)

Adolescent Pregnancy  
  • United States has one of the highest adolescent
    pregnancy and childbearing rates in the
    industrialized world however, recent declines
    are noted
  • Reasons for these recent declines include
    increased contraceptive use and fear of sexually
    transmitted infections such as AIDS

Risks of Becoming Pregnant as an Adolescent
  • Health risks for both the baby and the mother
  • Infants are more likely to have low birth weight
  • Infants have more neurological problems and
    childhood illness
  • Adolescent mothers often drop out of school
  • Even if they resume their education, they
    generally never catch up economically

  • Adolescent mothers are more likely to come from
    low-SES backgrounds
  • Many were not good students before they became
  • Some adolescent mothers do well in school and
    have positive outcomes
  • All adolescents can benefit from age-appropriate
    family-life education

Issues in Adolescent Health
  • Many of the behaviors that are linked to poor
    health habits and early death in adults begin
    during adolescence
  • Early formation of healthy behavior patterns,
    such as regular exercise and a preference for
    foods low in fat and cholesterol
  • has immediate health benefits
  • helps in adulthood to delay or prevent disability
    and mortality

Nutrition and Exercise
  • The percentage of overweight teens in the United
    States increased from the early 1990s through
  • Compared to adolescents in 28 countries, U.S. and
    British adolescents ate more fried food and less
    fruits and vegetables
  • U.S. boys and girls become less active as they
    reach and progress through adolescence

Nutrition and Exercise
  • Adolescent boys are more likely to engage in
    moderate to vigorous exercise than were girls
  • Exercise is linked to a number of positive
    physical outcomes
  • Lower weight, reduced triglyceride levels, lower
    blood pressure, a lower incidence of type II
    diabetes, lower drug use

Sleep Patterns
  • 45 percent of adolescents studied got inadequate
    sleep on school nights (fewer than 8 hours)
  • inadequate sleep resulted in feeling more tired
    or sleepy, cranky and irritable, falling asleep
    in school, being in a depressed mood, and
    drinking caffeinated beverages
  • adolescents biological clocks undergo a shift as
    they get older this seems related to a delay in
    the nightly release of the sleep-inducing hormone
  • (National Sleep Foundation, 2006)

Leading Causes of Death in Adolescence  
  • The three leading causes of death in adolescence
    are accidents, homicide, and suicide
  • More than half of deaths for ages 15 to 24 are
    due to unintentional injuries three-fourths
    involve motor vehicles
  • Homicide is the second-leading cause of death,
    especially among African-American males
  • The adolescent suicide rate has tripled since the

Substance Use and Abuse
  • Proportions of U.S. students who used any illicit
    drug declined in the late 1990s and first years
    of the 21st century
  • The United States still has one of the highest
    rates of adolescent drug use of any
    industrialized nation
  • Early onset of drinking linked to increased risk
    of heavy drinking in middle age
  • Parents play a role in preventing drug abuse
  • Peers also influence whether adolescents become
    substance abusers
  • Gateway drugs
  • Two explanations
  • (Johnston others, 2010)

Anorexia Nervosa
  • Anorexia nervosa -- eating disorder that involves
    the relentless pursuit of thinness through
  • Three main characteristics of anorexia nervosa
  • weighing less than 85 percent of what is
    considered normal for a persons age and height
  • having an intense fear of gaining weight
  • having a distorted image of ones body shape

Bulimia Nervosa  
  • Bulimia nervosa -- eating disorder in which the
    individual consistently follows a binge-and-purge
  • Bulimics go on an eating binge and then purge by
    self-inducing vomiting or using laxatives
  • Bulimics are preoccupied with food, have a strong
    fear of becoming overweight, and are depressed or

The Formal Operational Stage
  • According to Piaget, the fourth and final stage
    of cognitive development, the formal operational
    stage, begins in adolescence
  • Formal operational thought is more abstract and
    logical full of idealism and possibilities
  • Hypothetical-deductive reasoning involves
    creating a hypothesis and deducing its

Adolescent Egocentrism
  • Adolescent egocentrism is the heightened
    self-consciousness of adolescents
  • David Elkind (1976) cited two key components
  • imaginary audience
  • personal fable
  • Adolescents also often show a sense of
    invincibility or invulnerability

Information Processing
  • Executive functioning involves higher-order
    cognitive activities such as reasoning, making
    decisions, monitoring thinking critically, and
    monitoring ones cognitive progress
  • Improvements in executive functioning permit
  • more effective learning
  • making decisions and engaging in critical thinking

Decision Making and Critical Thinking
  • Young adolescents are more likely to generate
    different options, examine a situation from a
    variety of perspectives, anticipate the
    consequences of decisions, and consider the
    credibility of sources
  • The social context plays a role in adolescent
    decision making
  • Cognitive changes that allow for improved
    critical thinking are
  • Increased speed, automaticity, and capacity of
    information processing
  • More benefits of content knowledge
  • Increased ability to construct new combinations
    of knowledge
  • Greater range and more spontaneous use of
    strategies or procedures for applying or
    obtaining knowledge

School Issues
  • Top-dog phenomenon -- moving from being the
    oldest, biggest, and most powerful to being the
    youngest, smallest, and least powerful students
    (The usual dip)
  • Consequence of moving from middle to high school
  • U.S. high school dropout rates have declined
  • Service learning -- form of education that
    promotes social responsibility and service to the