As a result, adolescents’ prefrontal cortexes are not functioning optimally until after this period of development. This means that the prefrontal cortex is not yet ready to take on the role of “manager”, cannot keep track of multiple thoughts, may have difficulty putting logic ahead of impulse, may not be able to see things from another person’s point of view, and may not be able to problem solve and analyze situations as well as adults wish they could. During this period of brain growth, adolescents may also react emotionally to situations, have difficulty generalizing learnings to similar situations, and have difficulty thinking logically when they are emotional.
While adults can use rational decision-making processes when facing emotional decisions, adolescent brains are simply not yet equipped to think through things in the same way. For example, when deciding whether to ride in a car driven by a friend who has been drinking, an adult can usually put aside the friendship and peer pressure and make a safe decision. However, an adolescent’s emotional response may overcome the rational response.