Brain Maturation

A 2004 study graphically revealed that the brain's center of reasoning and problem solving is among the last to mature. The decade-long MRI study of normal brain development from ages 4 to 21, by researchers at NIH's National Institute of Mental Health and the University of California Los Angeles shows that the higher-order brain centers, such as the prefrontal cortex, don't fully develop until young adulthood.

Constructed from MRI scans of healthy children and teens, the time-lapse "movie", from which the above images were extracted, compresses 15 years of brain development into just a few seconds. Red indicates more gray matter, blue indicates less. Areas performing more basic functions mature earlier; areas for higher order functions mature later.