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Press Release

Should the Science of Adolescent Brain Development Inform Public Policy?

Posted on: 03 Apr 12

PR Newswire

DALLAS, April 3, 2012

DALLAS, April 3, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Neuroscience has made tremendous progress in understanding the adolescent brain, and there are opportunities, as well as challenges, for using that knowledge to inform a variety of public policies, according to an article in the Spring 2012 edition of Issues in Science and Technology.

"There is now incontrovertible evidence that adolescence is a period of significant changes in brain structure and function," writes Laurence Steinberg of Temple University. "And the most important conclusion to emerge from recent research is that important changes in brain anatomy and activity take place far longer into development than had been previously thought."

Steinberg says that it remains to be seen whether the revelation that the adolescent brain may be less mature than scientists had previously thought is ultimately a good thing, a bad thing, or a mixed blessing for young people.

"Some policymakers," he writes, "will use this evidence to argue in favor of restricting adolescents' rights, and others will use it to advocate for policies that protect adolescents from harm… Science can help in deciding where best to draw the lines."

Also in the Spring 2012 Issues, Richard Van Atta and Marko M. G. Slusarczuk of the Institute of Defense Analyses write that U.S. leadership in the semiconductor industry is in trouble, threatened by competitors in Europe and Asia.

When challenged by Japan 25 years ago, the United States responded vigorously. U.S. industry convinced the government to make investments that helped preserve and sustain U.S. leadership.

But today's situation is in some ways worse, and so far, the authors write, there has not even been a policy discussion about it.

In another article, Robert D. Atkinson of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation in Washington, D.C., argues for a new approach to strengthening U.S. capacity in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Atkinson writes that although most policymakers agree that a stronger skills base in these fields is critical for boosting U.S. innovation and competitiveness, the approach the nation is taking is misguided. Instead of a "Some STEM for All" approach in which all U.S. students receive as much STEM education as possible, he advocates an "All STEM for Some" approach in which the most resources are devoted to rigorous training for those students who are most interested in and capable of doing well in STEM.

ISSUES IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY is the award-winning journal of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and the University of Texas at Dallas.

Contact: Kevin Finneran 202-641-1415

SOURCE Issues in Science and Technology

PR Newswire

Last updated on: 03/04/2012

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