Courtney Langton

Courtney is an aspiring high school teacher. Her teachables are History and English, but she's happy to teach anything that doesn't involve numbers or formulas. Her particular interest is in promoting gender equity and anti-oppression both in and outside the classroom. She writes a detailed To-Do list every morning, and enjoys nothing more than a good book and a plate of bacon on a rainy Saturday.

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan's primary interest is moral education. His teachable subjects are English and Music. He encourages critical thinking and hopes to teach his students to recognize, and strive for, what is truly important to them without forgetting to be compassionate, tolerant, and open-minded along the way. He likes making analogies and his favourite is one that compares life to jumping on a trampoline.

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A bit of psychology
Wednesday, September 9, 2009

We learned a few interesting things about the human brain last week so we thought we'd share some of the more interesting bits here.

So apparently, they isolated the parts of our brains that are responsible for instinct and reason. Instinct is generated from this little bit of your brain called the amigdala while reason comes from the part of your brain called the frontal lobe:

*photo source:

You'll have to excuse the fact that it's not in English. But as you can see, there's that little red bit there - the amigdala - that's responsible for most of your more instinctive urges and behaviors. Not exactly the biggest part of your brain but, then again, we as humans tend to stifle that part of us from a young age so I guess it shouldn't come as a complete surprise. Nor should it surprise anyone that that frontal lobe bit - known as "lobulo frontal" in, I think, Spanish - is so large, considering how much we put into reasoning things out.

So apparently, part of the reason why teenagers are so bad at controlling their emotions is because our frontal lobe doesn't fully develop until we're much older. The amigdala, on the other hand, is one of the first parts of our brain to come online so it's been around and kicking for much longer than the frontal lobe.

You might ask, then, shouldn't younger children have even less developed frontal lobes than teenagers? Well, that's probably true. That's why young children sometimes behave in ways that indicate a blithe disregard for self-preservation. But I think we're less fearful of younger children because their amigdala is probably telling them more consistent things. Teenagers, on the other hand, what with having hormones and all, probably fluctuate wildly when it comes to emotions so their amidgala is probably working harder than usual. And with their frontal lobe not in its peak form, it probably can't keep up with the rapid changes in what the amigdala is telling the rest of your brain to do.

So there you have it. An oversimplified precis of what we learned in our short psychology lecture on the brain. So just remember: the next time your students act out in your class or in the halls, blame their underdeveloped frontal lobe!

We also learned that people are incapable of taking in more than 10 minutes worth of information before needing time to process it and that the human brain doesn't function well as the day goes on. But they also scheduled a 3-hour night-class into my week so I don't know whether they actually believed what they were saying about that stuff.

Jonathan posted at 9:11 PM - Comments (2)


Also, they did a study that showed that teenagers use less of what frontal lobe they have. For instance, they tend not to use the part which involves thinking about other people's thoughts, emotions, motives, and stuff as much as adults.
This actually surprises me. Consider how much game theory your stereotypical teenage girl goes through in a single day. I know that my "I wonder what [so-and-so' thinks of me" processes were on overdrive, and I'm pretty sure I was substandard in this department, even for a guy.

By Blogger Christian H, at September 10, 2009 at 8:20 PM  

Hmm, good point. But aren't those thoughts selfishly motivated? Plus, usually your teenage idea of what other people actually think of you is waaay off. It's the whole, "Everyone will see this zit, I KNOW they will!" And then no one notices it unless you put a big bandaid on it. But I suppose a young man or woman wouldn't take too kindly to being told that no one will notice their pimple because everyone else's brain is just as internally-focused as theirs is.

By Blogger Courtney, at September 16, 2009 at 10:04 PM  

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