Individuation of the Adolescent Brain
This chapter outlines a neuropsychological theory that views human adolescence as a fundamental reorganization of the self. It begins with a psychological analysis of the individuation of the self in adolescence, drawing on the modern psychoanalytic theory of object relations, emphasizing the importance of self-regulation in an interpersonal context. It then presents a theoretical model of the neural mechanisms of self-regulation, emphasizing the limbic influences on motivation, and memory and differences in hemispheric function that may influence these functions during adolescent development. It is argued that the motivational control of memory consolidation may be the central factor in the ongoing process of neuropsychological self-regulation. The chapter attempts a new theoretical integration of neural mechanisms of motivation with the psychoanalytic theory of self-regulation. In this approach, the motivations that awaken during the adolescent phase support not only autonomy and interpersonal individuation, but the capacity for critical thinking that underlies abstract thought. It is argued that the cognitive negotiation of interpersonal relations is achieved with the same mechanisms of neural and conceptual self-regulation that are required for intellectual differentiation and critical thought.
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