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Exploring sport coaching and psychology
Exploring sport coaching and psychology

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3 What about brain maturation?

Now you move from physical to brain development. Does the brain develop at a similar rate to the rest of the body?

Until the late 1990s, it was assumed that most brain development takes place early in life. Recently, with advances in brain imaging technology, such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), neuroscientists like Sarah-Jayne Blakemore have started to look inside the living human brain.

In a widely viewed online talk called The mysterious workings of the adolescent brain [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , Blakemore (2012) describes how the brain undergoes dramatic development into the early 20s. This is thought to correspond to connections between cells (synapses), in which those:

… that are being used are strengthened … You can think of it a bit like pruning a rosebush. You prune away the weaker branches so that the remaining, important branches, can grow stronger, and this process, which effectively fine-tunes brain tissue… is happening … during adolescence.

(Blakemore, 2012)

The news that the brain continues to develop for a long time after the rest of the body is surprising, and psychologists are starting to understand the implications of this.