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Brain Research Studies and their Significance to the Juvenile Justice System - Essay Example

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Scientific discoveries and studies in the Neurosciences have become very helpful to society through the years and have, in fact, assisted in providing us with new solutions especially in Medicine where they "have led to huge strides." (Spinks). New technology and findings now allow us to be more accurate in mapping the structure of the human brain…
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Brain Research Studies and their Significance to the Juvenile Justice System
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Download file to see previous pages In studying the juvenile brain, the use of new technology in the neurosciences have given way to new observations about differences in the structures of human adult brains and human juvenile brains, observations which basically stress the underdevelopment of juvenile brains. These observations in the structural differences between adult and juvenile brains have now sparked heated debates among scientists in regards to whether the observed differences have any real significance in how juveniles think and act. Aside from the scientific circle, legal experts and concerned citizens are also engaged in similar debates about whether or not these observed structural differences should be applied on how we treat juvenile offenders.
The readings provided to us all provide insights into new findings about how the human brain develops. These new researches show how there really are differences between adult brains and teenage brains, with the conclusion that juvenile brains are basically immature. Of course, this has always been assumed by people. We have always assumed that teenagers are less mature and that's why there are a lot of rights that a teenager cannot exercise until he has reached the age of 18. But it is only now that this immaturity is actually based on scientific fact and not just observations of how teenagers behave. There is not much argument about the validity of these observed differences. The bigger debate lies on whether these structural differences are actually significant, and how these differences should be interpreted.
First of all, the new brain research findings that were described in the readings show that the development of the human brain actually finishes only at the early 20's. (American Bar Association) Also, another important detail about recent brain research findings is the actual path of development for human brains. Not only was the structure of the teenage brain observed to be underdeveloped as compared to adult brains, research findings also show that the last part to develop fully is the pre-frontal cortex. (Bower 2004) The interpretation of these observations then leads to the debate.
As a relatively young science, there are still a lot of things about the human brain that cannot be adequately explained by Neuroscience. Although large strides are being made in regards to mapping the structure of the human brain, the actual function of all these structures is still very theoretical. The significance and function of the frontal lobe and the pre-frontal cortex, for example, is still not fully determined. (Bower 2004) Although a large number of neuroscientists agree that the frontal lobe where the pre-frontal cortex is located has been observed to usually be active when an individual is undertaking higher thought processes, they cannot conclude that the pre-frontal cortex itself is responsible for these higher thought processes. It may just be a coincidence. Some believe these research findings may only show correlations between some functions of the brain and the activity of different brain structures, but they do not give ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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