Teacher’s Questions for The Teenage Brain


Before reading:

  1. Have you ever made a major decision without first thinking it through? What was the potential risk? What was the potential reward?

During reading:

  1. Briefly describe some of the risks to the choices described in the second paragraph of the article.
  2. What role does pushing limits play in the development of an individual’s behavior and decision making during adolescence?
  3. Explain how mouse behavior changes with age (consider the example Beatriz Luna gives).
  4. Why would a casino-like computer game be useful in studying risks and rewards?
  5. How do researchers identify active brain regions using MRI?
  6. Describe the effect of dopamine on the brain.
  7. Provide an example of the role played by the prefrontal cortex.
  8. What is one benefit of synaptic pruning?

After reading:

  1. When tempted to make a decision that could turn out bad, what do you do?
  2. Can you think of a way to reward teenagers who make good decisions? Would that encourage positive behavior? Why or why not?


  1. Societies often set specific ages when people can start to legally engage in certain activities. Examples in the United States include driving, voting, drinking alcohol, joining the military and getting married. Reflecting on what you have learned about the development of the brain during adolescence, would you raise (or lower) any of these age restrictions? Which ones would you change, and why?