HOOKED: THE MOLDABLE BRAIN

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“She wanted to do it. I didn’t push her or anything. But when it was over, she cried and acted like it was a big mistake. I wish it hadn’t happened. But we can’t take it back and now everything is messed up.” (Andy, 15)

The human’s largest sexual organ is the brain.

This is what Dr. Gary Rose relates in his book, “Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children”. He says that the brain is moldable and adaptable – that it is not a rigid, immutable structure, but an organ that can grow and flex.

The primary things that change in the brain of a human being are its synapses.  They are like the highways that transport information from one neuron (the primary cells) to another.

It is these synapses that are developed or disconnected with time and with repetitive experiences.

“When a new activity or experience occurs, it can result in a strengthening of the connection between neurons, or even in a new connection altogether. These connections are critical for memory, behavior, emotions, desires and any number of other outcomes that activity or experience brings. If that experience or activity occurs again, the connection is used and strengthened in the process. If that connection is not used, the synapse eventually breaks down and dies. This process refers to either a continued connection between neurons or to a loss of connection – not the life or death of the neurons themselves, although that can and does occur as well.” (Dr. Daniel Weinberger, “The Adolescent Brain”)

PET scans (medical imaging technique that produces a 3D map of the brain) reveal that the part of the brain that controls the ability to make fully mature judgment decisions is not physically mature until an individual reaches his mid-twenties. That part of the brain that is responsible for complex assessments about future consequences and responsibility is still growing throughout the teen years and into the early twenties.

Adolescent brains can be negatively molded by unstructured experiences. For young people, this means that the guidance they can receive from media, pop culture or peers can be unhealthy depending on what value systems they subscribe to.

Elizabeth Ozer from the National Adolescent Health Information Center states that if young people are not guided by parents, mentors and other caring adults, but make their own decisions based on these less than optimal types of bonding, they often make poor decisions which would include risky sexual activity.

Parents, we can never underestimate the role and function that has been given to us by God. Our input in the development of value and belief system of our children are so critical that it will actually come to surface in the decisions they make even if we’re not there.

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POSTSCRIPT:

First post on this series here (How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children).
Second post here (How Bad Can Casual Sex Be?)