Adolescent emotional maturation through divergent models of brain organization

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Abstract

In this article we introduce the hypothesis that neuropsychological adolescent maturation, and in particular emotional management, may have opposing explanations depending on the interpretation of the assumed brain architecture, that is, whether a componential computational account (CCA) or a dynamic systems perspective (DSP) is used. According to CCA, cognitive functions are associated with the action of restricted brain regions, and this association is temporally stable; by contrast, DSP argues that cognitive functions are better explained by interactions between several brain areas, whose engagement in specific functions is temporal and context-dependent and based on neural reuse. We outline the main neurobiological facts about adolescent maturation, focusing on the neuroanatomical and neurofunctional processes associated with adolescence. We then explain the importance of emotional management in adolescent maturation. We explain the interplay between emotion and cognition under the scope of CCA and DSP, both at neural and behavioral levels. Finally, we justify why, according to CCA, emotional management is understood as regulation, specifically because the cognitive aspects of the brain are in charge of regulating emotion-related modules. However, the key word in DSP is integration, since neural information from different brain areas is integrated from the beginning of the process. Consequently, although the terms should not be conceptually confused, there is no cognition without emotion, and vice versa. Thus, emotional integration is not an independent process that just happens to the subject, but a crucial part of personal growth. Considering the importance of neuropsychological research in the development of educational and legal policies concerning adolescents, we intend to expose that the holistic view of adolescents is dependent on whether one holds the implicit or explicit interpretation of brain functioning.

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Oron Semper, J. V., Murillo, J. I., & Bernacer, J. (2016). Adolescent emotional maturation through divergent models of brain organization. Frontiers in Psychology, 7(AUG). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01263

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