Adolescent Cognitive Development


Cognitive development is a phrase used to refer to the development of the overall abilities to reason and think. Children that are aged between six and twelve years old develop the abilities to think in a concrete manner, like how to subtract or divide, add, arrange in a given order, as well as transform actions and objects. These are referred to as concrete because they are often performed in the presence of events and objects that are being thought about. Adolescence normally marks the start of development of more complex reasoning or thinking processes like forming new ideas, the abilities to take into consideration varying points of view according to different criteria, as well as the general ability to think about thinking process. During the adolescence phase, teenagers acquire the ability to think systematically about all the available logical relationships within a problem. This is the principle reason most relationships are often started at the teenage phase (Bee & Boyd, 2010).


Ever since I was young, I could describe myself as being an introvert who had two or three very close-knit friends. I was a young man who was not very active in the social scene due to shyness. When I turned thirteen, I realized the differences between myself and female children that also lived in my block. This is the age when I fully realized that we are different in various aspects. I could also make some decisions on my own; my parents could leave me in the house with explicit instructions on what I was supposed to do and not to do. Even though now I fully understand the implications of not following these instructions, I was still stubborn enough to try and test the limits of how much I could get away with by going against their advice occasionally. This was especially on matters to do with not bringing friends with me and creating a mess in the house.

I can say that my social life exploded when I became a teenager, and most of what we were doing was done as a group with the false belief that nothing could go wrong. It suddenly became ‘cool’ to set our rules that may not conform with the accepted rules of the society. Suddenly conformity became a boring lifestyle. It was in stark contrast to how we lived during our pre-teen years in complete obedience of our parents. However, we were able to analyze situations independently and come to our decisions. We were more independent and capable of coming up with our solutions to minor problems without necessarily involving our parents.

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The following is an interview I conducted with Dr. Hernandez Di Maria, a local psychiatrist in our community.

Me: Could you tell me what you know about what is in the brain of a teenager that was not known two decades ago?

Hernandez: The most significant information that I have come across is that deep into the adolescent years, around 15 to 18 years of age, there are normally changes that occur on the front part of the child’s brain This information was not known two decades ago.

Me: Did we assume that the brain had already been fully formed much earlier on and that no significant changes were taking place?

Hernandez: Two decades ago, we knew that there were still some changes that were taking place deep into adolescent years. However, I admit that we believed the majority of changes occurred during the early years of life, and after three years of age, there was very little change that was taking place. We have now discovered that it was an incorrect assumption. Any person that has seen a teenager realizes that there are still many changes taking place at that period.

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Me: What exactly do we know at the moment that was not known two decades ago?

Hernandez: Now we know that there are changes on how information in the front part of the brain is transmitted to other parts of it as well as how it is processed. These changes appear to increase dramatically after puberty and continue until the child completes the adolescent stage. Teenagers experience enormous growth and development during the period spanning twelve to eighteen years of age. It is believed that these changes are as a result of some changes that occur in the frontal cortex.

Analysis of Articles

I will start off by examining the work of Jean Piaget. He has a popular theory on children's cognitive development. He starts the article by describing his background, as well as the underlying assumptions, and then goes on to consider each of the stages in turns. The elegance of this theory mainly lies in its being simple. Bee & Boyd (2010) state that there are four main assumptions to Jean’s theory of cognitive development. The first assumption is that the cognitive development is the result of active as well as voluntary exploration by the young child, where he or she adapts his or her world so as to understand it better. The second assumption states that this process of adaptation may be classified by three referred to as functional variants, viz. assimilation, equilibrium, and accommodation (Piaget, 1969). The third assumption claims that newborn children start their cognitive development with various inborn schemes for interacting with environment. The fourth assumption goes that there is an orderly progression of structures that create stages (Piaget, 1969).

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The next article is Angela Oswalt’s Adolescent Cognitive Development. Angela Oswalt states that while physical development can be easily measured by using simple tools like a tape or weighing scale, other dimensions of development are harder to quantify. She says that theories that have already been developed have proved useful in identifying, describing as well as measuring moral, cognitive, social, and emotional aspects of the growth of adolescents. The article explores a crucial aspect of these dimensions.

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