Overview

Teenagers reimagines the way people think about adolescents. No longer society's scourge and scapegoat, the teenager emerges from David Bainbridge's fascinating study as an awe-inspiring natural phenomenon that evokes reverence and wonder. Bainbridge, a veterinarian and anatomist, suggests that the second decade is the most important in the human lifecycle. In lively prose, he explains the science behind the changes that occur both on the surface of the teenage body and deep within the teenage brain, from lanky ...
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Teenagers: A Natural History

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Overview

Teenagers reimagines the way people think about adolescents. No longer society's scourge and scapegoat, the teenager emerges from David Bainbridge's fascinating study as an awe-inspiring natural phenomenon that evokes reverence and wonder. Bainbridge, a veterinarian and anatomist, suggests that the second decade is the most important in the human lifecycle. In lively prose, he explains the science behind the changes that occur both on the surface of the teenage body and deep within the teenage brain, from lanky limbs and bad skin to falling in love, sleeping till noon, and the irresistible allure of sex, drugs, and rock‘n’roll. Observed through a scientific lens, these bizarre biological transformations and behavioral anomalies snap into focus, as not only a beautifully choreographed sequence of steps on the path to adulthood, but also as a key evolutionary factor in the success of the species.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781926685410
  • Publisher: Greystone Books
  • Publication date: 7/1/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 837,243
  • File size: 470 KB

Meet the Author

David Bainbridge is the Clinical Veterinary Anatomist at Cambridge University (UK). He trained as a veterinary surgeon and has carried out research at the Institute of Zoology at Regent's Park, the Royal Veterinary College, and Cornell, Sydney and Oxford Universities. His previous popular science books include Making Babies: The Science of Pregnancy, The X in Sex: How the X Chromosone Controls Our Lives, and Beyond the Zonules of Zinn: A Fantastic Journey Through Your Brain (all published by Harvard University Press). He lives in Suffolk, UK with his wife and their three children, who are edging inexorably towards adolescence.
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Read an Excerpt

from the Introduction

We all know the teenage mind. It experiences overwhelming sensations, strong, sudden emotions and dramatic, unpredictable moods. It flits between intense sociability, complete introversion and apparent thoughtlessness. Always searching for its place in the world and honing its intellect, it is untrammelled and uninhibited, reaching peaks of creativity unmatched in adults. It is almost as if there is too much mind inside a teenager's head.

The adolescent brain differs from the adult in almost every conceivable way. It is not just a brain that has recently discovered sex and hormones, or a simple transitional stage between child and adult: it is larger than at any other age, and its appearance in our evolutionary history directly preceded our species' attainment of incredible intellectual powers. I believe that the teenage brain is the central phenomenon of the human race.

That is all very well, but what real, tangible evidence do we have of what is going on inside the adolescent cranium? Until ten years ago, the evidence was very thin and was based on dissection of the occasional dead teenagers' brains which found their way onto the neuroanatomist's slab. The brains available for comparison were few, and obviously only gave a 'snapshot' of brain anatomy at a single, fatal, moment in time. What was needed was a way to follow the brain development of many healthy people throughout their first few decades of life — without having to kill them. And the ability to do this came in the form of a huge magnet and some radio antennas . . .
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Table of Contents

Introduction: A silver lining

1. Aches and Gripes and Lumps and Bumps:
Why growing up is hard to do
Where did the teenagers come from?
What flips our sexy switch?
Why all the bodily unpleasantness?
Why do teenage girls and boys look different?
Why are girls more mature?

2. Thinking, Risk and Rock 'n'Roll: Why teenage brains are different
Why are teenagers brainier than everyone else?
Are teenagers driven by their hormones?
Why are teenagers' brains different?
Why all the sleep, risk and anger?
Why do teenagers start to think in new ways?

3. Out of the Ordinary: The truth about alcohol, nicotine and other diversions
Where did all the drugs come from?
Why do drugs affect teenagers differently?
So is teenage drug use really a bad thing?

4. Love and Loss: Why teenage relationships can be the best and worst things in the world
Why do teenagers get so sad?
Why do teenagers get so confused?
Why do teenagers get so worried?
And what is love?

5. Teenage Kicks: The ifs, whens and whys of sex
Why do teenagers have sex?
When are teenagers meant to have sex?
Why do teenagers get sexually transmitted diseases?
Why is teenage pregnancy different?
Why are teenagers meant to have sex?

Epilogue: The long game
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