Brain Scans Reveal Possible Cause of Teenage Rebellion

June 15, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. rebellious / rɪˈbɛl yəs / (adj.) – refusing to acknowledge the authority of someone
Example: I hope my son won’t turn into a rebellious teenager. 

2. engage in / ɛnˈgeɪdʒ  ɪn / (v. phrase) – to become involved in something
Example: She engaged in extracurricular activities to deal with her boredom.

3. behave / bɪˈheɪv / (v.) – to act in a specific manner
Example: He behaves well in front of his teacher.

4. adolescence / ˌæd lˈɛs əns / (n.) – a period when a child develops and matures into adulthood
Example: During her adolescence, my daughter became very moody.

5. defense mechanism / dɪˈfɛns ˈmɛk əˌnɪz əm / (n.) – a person’s reaction to avoid conflict or troubling situations
Example: The child uses crying as a defense mechanism.


Read the text below.
Researchers from the University of Southern California have found a possible reason why teenagers develop a rebellious attitude.

Using MRIs, the researchers recorded the brain activities of 22 teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18. With this technology, the researchers were able to record and compare the images of the participants’ brains when they responded to videos of other teenagers and videos of their parents.

The researchers found that the rebellious participants or those engaged in risky behavior responded more to the videos of other teenagers than to the videos of their parents. The results also showed that seeing videos of other teenagers instead of their parents increased the activities in the participants’ precuneus [pre-KYOO-ne-uh s]—the part of the brain that makes people aware of how other people think or behave. The more active the precuneus is, the more a person exhibits risk-taking or rebellious behavior.

With these results, the researchers suggest that separation or less interaction with parents have something to do with teenagers becoming rebellious.

Aside from separation from parents, there are other possible causes of teenage rebellion. A publication from the Johns Hopkins University mentioned that one of the reasons is adolescence. This is a period in which a teenager’s risk-taking behaviors increase. Teenagers also rebel as a defense mechanism, an article from California Medicine revealed. The article explained that teenagers challenge the authority of a person out of fear.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Why do you think teenagers are usually closer to their friends than their parents?
·         Do you think this study can help people deal with rebellious teenagers? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Aside from those mentioned in the article, what can be the other causes of teenage rebellion?
·         Do you think teenage rebellion is a natural part of growing up, or should it be prevented?

June 15, 2015