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The Primal Teen: What the New Discoveries about the Teenage Brain Tell Us about Our Kids
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The Primal Teen: What the New Discoveries about the Teenage Brain Tell Us about Our Kids

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  327 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
For anyone who has ever puzzled over the mysterious and often infuriating behavior of a teenager comes a groundbreaking look at the teenage brain written by the medical science and health editor for The New York Times. While many members of the scientific community have long held that the growing pains of adolescence are primarily psychological, Barbara Strauch highlights ...more
ebook, 256 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Anchor (first published 2003)
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Peter Galamaga
Feb 17, 2013 Peter Galamaga rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I strongly recommend this book to parents of teens and all teachers.

- Gives some perspective to those of us frustrated with illogical, emotional behavior. There are scientific reasons for this. We don't get angry and yell at a baby for pooping in his diaper because that's what babies do. Similarly, while we shouldn't ignore inappropriate behavior by our teens, we also need to understand why it's happening and perhaps learn to take a few deep breaths when it's happening...VERY deep breaths.

Jobiska (Cindy)
Although of course, as the author herself implies, any book about neuroscience is going to be outdated by the time it hits the shelf, there is not much out there for the lay reader, especially on the new research into what's happening in the teen brain. Therefore, this book does fill a necessary spot in a parent's library. If the only function it serves is similar to the book "Yes, your teen IS crazy!" in helping relieve a parent's mind that *they* are not the one going insane--the hormonal/neur ...more
Viv JM
I read this book for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge to "read a non-fiction book about science". I was a little disappointed with this choice. It's very much a science book written by a journalist and didn't feel "science-y" enough! The tone was rather anecdotal and informal, which made it an easy enough read. However, many of the scientific studies cited seemed to be about adolescent rats or monkeys. Either that, or they were of the "when we do this, the brain lights up here" type, which I ...more
Pauline Cardenas
I think a better subtitle of this book would be something along the lines of "Current Hypotheses About the Teenage Brain based on Ongoing Research". I felt much of the information was not definitive and was simply sharing what current neuroscientists are guessing based on their current inconclusive research. Given this book was published 13 years ago, it's probably not worthwhile to read today. I actually almost decided to abandon it but did make myself finish reading it. I just started another ...more
This book was interesting. The writing is a bit rambling, but takes complex ideas and makes them easy to digest in laymans terms.

I dont have teenagers or work with them,but the main points from this book bear repeating: the brain does not stop growing until the early twenties. That the ability to reason well is not possible as a teenager because the frontal lobe is not fully formed is fascinating. The recent MRI scan studies that show the responses in the teenager being inside the am--- forgett
Sep 09, 2013 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Could there be a more timely book for me to read? I wanted to underline, highlight passages, and write certain kids' names next to some sections. The book came out in 2003, so this isn't fresh, new information. You have likely heard bits and pieces of it already. And if you have teens or were a teen (assuming we all were), then much of it you intuitively know. Teens need more sleep! Really? AND the sky is blue? You don't say! But what this book does is provide the biophysical reasons behind some ...more
Easy-to-read synthesis of new research showing that the teenage brain is still growing and fashioning itself. The author points out that "the new brain science gives us another arrow in our quiver of respsonse" to the turbulence of adolescence.

One of the new nuggets I gleaned: teenagers, because of the way that melatonin is secreted in their brains, are biologically wired to stay up late and sleep in. Strauch wonders if this was because their sharp eyes were needed to warn of predators when our
May 19, 2013 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I've been frustrated this year. I don't believe that the district or the administration has been implementing policies which work well with teenagers. After reading this book, I'm now sure of it.

When I ordered this book off of Amazon, I was looking for a book which was a friendly read yet would still explain the latest developments in science on the adolescent brain. This book is a friendly compilation of both research and anecdotal evidence. The science was brought down to such a level that I w
Feb 19, 2011 Marla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyone I've ever known points to the unpredictable actions of teens as the result of "raging hormones." Apparently that's only one part of the story. The Primal Teen cites research that shows massive brain changes in adolescence are both the cause and the result of experiences in the teen years. It's an accessible and eye-opening book for any parent or teacher who wants greater insight into their teenagers' actions and is looking for ways to help them transition into healthy, well-balanced adu ...more
An upbeat and often amusing look at some of the changes that take place physiologically in the brain during the teenage years. Explains why teens may engage in risky and thoughtless behavior, why they may stay up all hours of the night, and why they sleep like the dead. Chemicals in the brain may influence their behavior during these years, but a healthy family environment can go a long way to curbing/changing/softening some of that behavior. Parents will be relieved to know that they *do* grow ...more
Gail Jeidy
Dec 03, 2011 Gail Jeidy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a must-read for parents of teenagers. While I've heard and read much about the teenage brain, this book offers all the needed information in one place. Here's one of my underlined sections:

" the teenage brain is reconfigured, it remains more exposed, more easily wounded, perhaps much more susceptible to critical and long-lasting damage than most parents and educators or even scientists had thought. Adolescence, some neuroscientists now warn, may be one of the worst times to expose
Jan 28, 2009 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love it when a book for a "popular" audience actually describes science well. I focused on developmental neuroscience in grad school and love that the author has taken scientific findings and presented them clearly. It is reassuring to parents of teens (as well as teens themselves) that their brains just aren't fully developed yet -- that they can be brilliant in numerous ways and yet still make stupid decisions, and it's to be expected, and we need to assume that will happen and do what we ca ...more
Christy Grace
I somewhat impulsively grabbed this at the library. Not really intending to read it, I thumbed through the first few pages, and initially wasn't terribly impressed. I found the author's writing to be very awkward and at times somewhat condescending. However, after reading the first few chapters, I really became engrossed in the subject matter, despite the annoying way in which it the information was given. Apparently by brain -actually my whole CNS - is still changing. Synapses are being trimmed ...more
Mar 07, 2011 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I heard rave reviews about this book. I kept wondering when it was going to be so amazing. It was okay but not amazing. For being based in scientific research it is a easy read sprinkled with stories and mostly interesting research. Basically, the research isn't all out yet (surprise! Is it ever?) but what they do know is the teen brain is still forming and changing for sure. Sleep is hugely important, hormones affect it, drugs and alcohol may have lasting damage...all things I think I would've ...more
Jul 01, 2014 Teresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
A good homeschooling friend recommended this book when Son1 was on the cusp of teenhood, and, I, in turn, recommend it to anyone who have teens/tweens, or people who write for the YA crowd.

Barbara Strauch summarizes current research (as current as a book can be given publication lag times) about the teenage brain from various scientific and medical disciplines for the layman reader, making this an immensely readable volume. It was helpful to understand, and therefore forgive, some of the stupid
Jun 16, 2010 Ronni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
another book you get at the library because the library doesn't have the book you wanted... i heard the author on the radio and wanted to read her new book but i'm reading her old book for now. it's pretty cool.


I really liked the science-y part but I could do without the anecdotal part. (I don't care if the author's husband has damage to the Broca region, you know?) Guess that's what makes science accessible for most readers, so I'll let it slide.
Dec 06, 2011 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Primal Teen provides a good survey of some of the current research being done looking at how teenager brains are in the process of changing which helps explain some of the challenges that teenagers face. That said, I found the book's conclusions inadequate. I believe that even in the midst of the changing brain, there is much that can be done to help a teenager develop there character which can offset many of the things than are happening on the biological level.
Jun 20, 2014 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
- Read this for work because I'm doing a presentation on adolescent brain development.

- I found it to be an easy read which moved quickly. A lot of the information was review for me so I'm not sure how people would feel about it and how everything is explained if they were completely new to the world of brain development.

- I'd love to see a new book with updated findings based on all the research done in the past 10 years since The Primal Teen came out.
Nov 16, 2014 Kaitlynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
Having to read this for a college class, I found this very interesting. I actually learned so much just by reading this, and I'm glad that scientists are learning more about the teenage brain. Being a teenager myself, life can get kind of scary, but I'm really glad that they emphasized that there are extreme changes going on in the brain and adolescents cannot help it. However, parents still have a major role in shaping a teenager's life, so they can't just blame the "science" of it all.
May 05, 2010 Suzie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh my goodness! So insightful and fun. Whenever a teenager in our house flips out I have several new things to say. My favorite, "Since your pre-frontal cortex isn't fully formed, I will have to act as your rational, logical voice." I also look forward to saying, "That's just your amygdala talking."
Jun 09, 2010 Robin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this for my IB Biology class in high school, but it was really, really interesting. I could hardly put it down, and even though it was kind of thick in the sceintific department (obviously), it wasn't a dull or boring read. A must read for anyone with teenagers or is a teenager themselves.
Jul 19, 2008 Kiersten rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book. Enlightening. Difficult to get through...turn your brain on first. This is not a page turner. You will learn lots about the brain and about teenage brains. Would recommend for parents of pre-teens and beyond.
Jan 07, 2015 denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for a class I'm taking. It is a little technical, but it is a good explanation of the teenage brain and how it develops and most importantly, why teenagers act the way that they do. There is a reason!
Feb 03, 2008 Pam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So far this is turning out to be an even mix of interesting read and dry stuff to get past so that I will get into the next interesting part. But all good stuff about what neurologists have found out about teen brains.
Jun 17, 2012 Tammy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wish I had read this book when I was a teenager, it's a fascinating look at a very complicated creature! As a middle school teacher, I am interested in anything that helps me grasp what's going on with my students.
Nov 08, 2010 Erica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, non-fiction
This is a really readable book for anyone who works with or has teenagers. All about teen brain development and the discoveries that scientists are making that can explain why teens naturally may act a certain way and ways in which we can react helpfully.
Mark Adams
A good explanation of the brain activity in teens. Highly technical and not for the average parent. I enjoy science, however explaining the scientific side of things loses interest in general conversation.
Got a little too scientific & technical, but the research is interesting. Was more than glad to hear that it's not uncommon for teens to space out and forget things they were just asked. The book helped me understand to be more patient as their brains are still developing.
Jul 12, 2010 Alisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
sometimes i felt like the author put too much of herself into the book. but, i learned interesting things about the teenage brain. teenagers like risk but are more tied to fear, they need 9 hours of sleep and their prefrontal lobe is just not developed yet.
Crystal Hutchinson
I really only made it about 28 pages through this book. It was so scientific,and I don't need anymore scientific textbook type books while I'm in graduate school.
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Barbara Strauch was deputy science editor of The New York Times in charge of health and medical science. She was the author of two books, “The Secret Life of the Grown-up Brain,’’ on the surprising talents of the middle-aged mind, published in April 2010, and “The Primal Teen,’’ on the teenage brain.
More about Barbara Strauch...

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