Mechanisms contributing to prefrontal cortex maturation during adolescence

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2016 Nov:70:4-12. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2016.05.013. Epub 2016 May 24.


Adolescence is defined as a transitional period between childhood and adulthood characterized by changes in social interaction and acquisition of mature cognitive abilities. These changes have been associated with the maturation of brain regions involved in the control of motivation, emotion, and cognition. Among these regions, the protracted development of the human prefrontal cortex during adolescence has been proposed to underlie the maturation of cognitive functions and the regulation of affective responses. Studies in animal models allow us to test the causal contribution of specific neural processes in the development of the prefrontal cortex and the acquisition of adult behavior. This review summarizes the cellular and synaptic mechanisms occurring in the rodent prefrontal cortex during adolescence as a model for understanding the changes underlying human prefrontal development.

Keywords: Adolescence; Cannabinoid; Dopamine; GABA; Glutamate; Interneurons; Prefrontal cortex.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Development
  • Animals
  • Cognition
  • Emotions
  • Humans
  • Prefrontal Cortex*