Saturday 31 August 2019

PB4L Conference - Keynote/Workshop - Nathan Wallis

Introducing the Structure of your Brain
You will learn about the structure of your brain and how this impacts on everything you say and do. To understand how this structure comes about means re-examining your early life and the first 1000 days.

Working with the Adolescent Brain/ Learning in the Brain
During adolescence part of your teenage brain “shuts for renovations”. This is the part of the brain responsible for controlling the teenager’s moods, for understanding consequences and for thinking about the well-being of others. So whilst you can’t expect lots of those behaviours during adolescence, there are ways that you can enhance and maximise the times when they can. We will also look at what learning looks like in the brain and how your practice can work with or against it.

During the teenage years, children's amygdala doesn't work as an adults does, so they would see these 6 faces differently than an adult would. They would see the first one as neutral, and the other 5 as angry. Clearly to an adult that is not true, but that's how the adolescent brain sees it. This is the cause of most teenager/parent conflict. The teenager perceives anger where it might not be a reality, they respond with anger or defiance, the parent blames the grumpy teenager, etc.

Interesting to learn about the affects of alcohol and marijuana on the teenage brain. 
Marijuana has no permanent affect on the adult brain if taken as an adult - if taken as a teenager, it can cause their IQ to drop by 8 points. That is the only long-term impact. The other thing about weed is that it has NO causal relationships in research (meaning there is no research that proves smoking weed causes depression, causes anxiety, causes whatever. no research whatsoever). There are correlations, such as between depression and smoking weed. However studies have found that in fact, the opposite is true. People who are already depressed are more likely to smoke weed because they want to soothe their depression. But again, weed didn't cause that depression. 

Nathan said that 100% of all money spent on alcohol is caused by teenage drinking. For example police call outs, prison sentences, domestic abuse etc, is not caused by the permanent affects of alcohol on the adult brain. In fact, it is caused by damage done to the teenage brain by alcohol. He also said that the modern adult male brain can take up to 8 units of alcohol per hour without doing any permanent damage to the brain. Women have a lower tolerance, presumably because men have been drinking larger amounts of alcohol for a far longer period of time (thousands of years), so have developed the receptors for it that women have not. 

NZs binge drinking culture is largely to blame. In France, the number of drinks a person can have in one night before considered by their peers to have gone to far, is 3. In NZ, its 13. Thats crazy! 

Watch this for a short version of this talk - 

Nathan Wallis - The Development of the Teenage Brain from Hagley College on Vimeo.

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