Why do many psychiatric disorders emerge during adolescence?

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008 Dec;9(12):947-57. doi: 10.1038/nrn2513. Epub 2008 Nov 12.


The peak age of onset for many psychiatric disorders is adolescence, a time of remarkable physical and behavioural changes. The processes in the brain that underlie these behavioural changes have been the subject of recent investigations. What do we know about the maturation of the human brain during adolescence? Do structural changes in the cerebral cortex reflect synaptic pruning? Are increases in white-matter volume driven by myelination? Is the adolescent brain more or less sensitive to reward? Finding answers to these questions might enable us to further our understanding of mental health during adolescence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Development / physiology*
  • Age of Onset
  • Brain / growth & development*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Mental Disorders / pathology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Peer Group
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology