Exploring the Adolescent Brain

By Terrence Deak, Ph.D.

From the day we are born, our brains are continually bombarded with incoming information from our body and the external environment. We rely on this spectacular organ to integrate this complex information and orchestrate appropriate responses to maximize our well-being. To do this, your brain comes into the world with an amazing capacity to learn, adapt, and change. It is no wonder, then, that early periods of brain development appear to be uniquely predisposed to capture specific skills and abilities, which can then be directly applied to the challenges of the age and often persist throughout your lifetime. 

While great emphasis has been placed on the brain benefits of enriched environments during infancy and childhood, the last 20 years has witnessed a vigorous emphasis on peculiarities of brain function that seem to be defining features of adolescence. Part of this new movement stems from the recognition that nearly all species experience a period of adolescence, and that much can be learned from studying the brains of adolescents in both animals and humans. Moreover, many of the hallmark features of adolescence appear to be highly conserved across species, such as heightened sociality, conflict within the nuclear family, and rapid expansion of cognitive function. These and nearly all other defining features of the adolescent period have their roots in basic brain development.

As a professor of neuroscience, I firmly believe that knowledge is power, and feel that as scientists we have a responsibility to communicate both our enthusiasm and the knowledge we obtain from our research projects to the public. The Owner’s Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain builds upon the previous success of Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, authored by my aunt, JoAnn Deak, and extends the intricacies of brain function to new depths for an older audience. The opportunity to partner with my aunt on this auspicious adventure was a distinct pleasure for me, and the end product represents a true synergy between our own professional backgrounds, the astonishing illustrations of Freya Harrison that bring our text to life, and the creative staff at Little Pickle Press. The goal for The Owner’s Manual was to provide the next level of understanding to kids who had been “primed” with YFEB by providing salient, adolescent-relevant information to pique their interest. Our hope is that we can empower emerging adolescents to become amazing adults. 


Terrence Deak, Ph.D. is a Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience at Binghamton University in upstate New York, where he runs a highly active neuroscience laboratory. Dr. Deak and his wife, Molly, have 3 inquisitive boys (Wyatt, Owen and Oscar) who are extremely interested in how their brains work, just like you. Together, they enjoy a plethora of outdoor activities, travel, and learning something new every day.

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Preorder The Owner’s Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain and receive 30% off!
In this exciting follow-up to Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, you’ll get the goods on glia and the news about neurons. Hang on to your hemispheres, and prepare to have your mind boggled as you learn about the workings of the brain in its second decade. This mind-blowingly good deal is only available for a limited time, so act now!

One thought on “Exploring the Adolescent Brain

  1. Dr. Deak mentioned something that I think is SO important- imparting knowledge and enthusiasm. This is exactly what his mother did in Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, and the two of them have done now in The Owner’s Manual. It has worked with my children, and the children at the school I teach at. One day I heard the second and third grade all chanting the parts of the brain as they left for the day- thanks to YFEB!

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