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Keywords:

  • adolescent brain development;
  • puberty

Abstract: Research examining brain development during adolescence is escalating rapidly along multiple dimensions, as illustrated by the remarkable diversity of trans-disciplinary work shown in this symposium. Ontogenetic transitions characteristics of adolescence are common among mammalian species. Although no other species demonstrates the full complexity of brain and behavioral function seen in human adolescents, adolescence appears to be a highly conserved developmental stage, its characteristics sculpted to meet common evolutionary pressures that include the avoidance of inbreeding at this time of sexual emergence. Numerous similarities are found between human adolescents and adolescents of other species in terms of developmental history and genetic constraints, as well as neurobehavioral and physiological characteristics. These similarities provide face and construct validity to support use of animal models as tools for the study of adolescence and the unique opportunities and vulnerabilities afforded by this developmental transition.