PSYC 7 CHAPTER 8: RITES OF PASSAGE—PHYSICAL AND COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT IN ADOLESCENCE Physical Development Signs of physical maturation o Puberty consists of two changes that mark the change from childhood to young adulthood Dramatic increases in height, weight, and changes in body’s fat and muscle content Changes in the reproductive organs that mark sexual maturity, as well as secondary sexual characteristics (body and facial hair, growth of breasts) Physical Growth o During the adolescent growth spurt, females gain as much as 15 pounds a year and boys 17 pounds Girls begin the growth spurt about 2 years before boys Muscle fibers become thicker and denser; heart and lung capacity increase, more so for boys Body fat increases, more so for girls Brain Growth in Adolescence o By the beginning of adolescence, the brain is 95% of adult size and weight o Myelination and synaptic pruning are nearly complete o Limbic system reaches maturity Helps regulate reward, desire, pleasure, and emotional experiences Focused on reward o Frontal cortex continues developing Self-control o Adolescents have very active reward system but not much self-control o Adolescents are more prone to risky behavior because desire swamps inhibition Adolescence is a vulnerable time because the gap between limbic system and frontal system is largest Sexual maturation o Along with height and weight, adolescents mature sexually o Includes changes in: Primary sex characteristics - the organs of reproduction Secondary sex characteristics - physical signs of maturity not directly linked to reproduction (breasts, facial hair, etc.) Mechanisms of Maturation o The pituitary (boss of endocrine system) releases a growth hormone Also stimulates other glands to produce estrogen in girls and testosterone in boys Estrogen and testosterone are present in boys and girls but in different amounts 1
o Puberty’s timing is genetically regulated and is affected by health and nutrition Identical twins tend to mature in synchrony o Environmental affects on maturation as well Menarche (a girl’s first period) occurs earlier in countries or SES levels where nutrition and healthcare are better Girls start menarche earlier when stressed (e.g., when mothers had harshly punished them or had stressful relationships themselves) Stress hormone may trigger release of maturation hormones Psychological Impact of Puberty o Body image Girls are more critical of their appearance and are likely to be dissatisfied Especially when friends often discuss appearance Boys are more likely to be pleased with appearance Most displeased when falling short of an idealized masculine body image Peers aren’t the source of displeasure Moodiness o Folk wisdom blames hormones, but not really true!
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- Fall '14