Child of Our Time

Changing Minds

Series 11 - Episode 1 Changing Minds

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Review

Parents with adolescent children can be tempted to talk about them as if they were a baffling sub-species – or uniquely foolish. This voyage into the science of the teenage brain suggests it’s not that simple.

It takes as its starting point the cohort of youngsters born in 2000 who have been filmed every few years. Robert Winston and Tanya Byron apply the latest science to the now 16-year-old contributors, and we learn some interesting findings, such as that the teenage brain is more creative than at any other time in our lives – and has more grey matter. (Later, what is called “pruning” will do away with unused cells.)

But the pleasure centre of the brain is more active, too – hence the teenage love of thrills, most obvious in young Matt, who was an unusually timid, hesitant child. Cut to a montage of Matt at 16 paragliding, white water rafting and crowdsurfing at a party. The transformation is extraordinary.

Summary

Part one of two. The documentary charting the development of 25 children born at the start of the millennium returns to follow the participants as they turn 16. Robert Winston and Tanya Byron discover how the teenagers' changing brains means that what they choose to do at this age can shape their lives forever, and explore research in human biology and neuroscience that reveals how the most baffling aspects of this stage of life can be explained and illuminated by the latest understanding of the changing teenage brain.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Robert Winston
Presenter Tanya Byron
Director Helen Sage
Executive Producer Zoe Heron
Producer Helen Sage
Documentary