SPRING EVENING PROGRAM
The Challenges of Adolescence:
Balancing Novelty, Risk and Self-Control
||Thursday, April 10, 2014
||Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Hall
||1230 York Avenue at 66th Street
||6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
||The Rockefeller University
Adolescence, the transition from childhood to adulthood, is generally a period of rapid psychological and social development. Scientists theorize that the heightened tendency to explore, experiment, and challenge authority during the adolescent years has played a key role in human evolution and migration—a fascinating hypothesis that isn’t much comfort to parents who worry that their teenagers may be incapable of making sensible decisions.
Neuroscientist BJ Casey, whose research encompasses studies of animal models as well as neuroimaging of human subjects, would argue that the developing adolescent brain is much more complicated than popular views suggest. She has found that, during adolescence, the brain regions involved in reasoning are often overwhelmed by the systems that process emotions. These findings indicate that while teenagers’ reasoning abilities are strong, emotional context affects their decision making to a much greater degree than is true in most children and adults. Dr. Casey’s research has provided a nuanced view of adolescent behavior that is helping to explain individual differences in self-control and in vulnerability to such conditions as depression and substance dependency.
At this Parents & Science evening program, Dr. Casey will present recent findings from research she leads as Sackler Professor and Director of the Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology at Weill Cornell Medical College. Following her presentation, she will be joined in discussion by two Rockefeller scientists whose work is highly relevant to adolescent behavior.
Mary Jeanne Kreek, Patrick E. and Beatrice M. Haggerty Professor, is a physician-scientist who studies the neurobiological and genetic basis of opiate addiction, cocaine dependency, and alcoholism. Her research includes a focus on how substance abuse affects the brain’s development.
Bruce S. McEwen, Alfred E. Mirsky Professor, has elucidated the brain’s interactions with sex hormones and with corticosteroids—the so-called “stress hormones.” He has made critical findings about the effects of stress on the developing brain.
Rockefeller University President and Carson Family Professor Marc Tessier-Lavigne will host the program.