Quick! Think of the dumbest thing you've ever done. OK. Now, what age where you when you achieved this remarkable feat of stupidity? Was it sixteen? Eighteen? Twenty? Was it in college or high school? Chances are, according to scientists, you were under age twenty-five. (If you said no, or you are thirty-two and the stupidest thing you've ever done was yesterday then perhaps your mental development is a tad behind). I hope I didn't just offend anybody.
During your early years your brain is growing and developing rapidly. When you are still just a little fetus swimming around in mama's belly, you make 250,000 new nerve cells every minute. You have about a 100 billion nerve cells when you are born but then you go about connecting them all together while you learn. You form trillions upon trillions of connections on your journey to adulthood. But there is one crucial part of the brain that is not finished developing until about age 25, and that is the prefrontal cortex, or PFC for short. It is also sometimes referred to as the executive brain because that is where the executive decisions are made. It is where you assess risk. Should I crawl out of the driver's seat and into the back of the truck and have my friend riding shotgun take my place while we're going down the interstate at seventy miles per hour, or would that be a tad too dangerous? Should I stick my tongue on that freezing cold flagpole or would that be a bad idea?
The fictional (and hilarious) characters on Dumb and Dumber aside, it is likely, as in the motion picture A Christmas Story, if you ever did stick your tongue to a frozen metal pole, you were probably just a kid. According to scientists, that is before you are fully able to assess risk well. If you are over 25 it is likely that, no matter how much you were dared, you would not french kiss any kind of metal object outside in the dead of winter. Yes, even double dog dared.
So if teenagers aren't using the PFC for decision-making, what part are they using? A National Institutes of Health magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) study suggests that instead they use the amygdala, a part of the brain that deals with fear and gut reactions. Youngsters apparently act more on instinct rather than logic, which can actually be beneficial considering that somtimes adults can get into trouble for not listening to their instincts enough, but, I digress, that's a subject for another write up.
One of my sources for this write up is an article I found on absnews.go.com (link is at the bottom). Apparently, Virginia lawmakers want to legislate a ban on cell phone use by young teenage drivers. They are using this research into the PFC to further the bill. Basically they are saying that reckless driving on behalf of drivers under age 25 can blame their underdeveloped brains. So now, can we add this to the already long list of excuses teenagers can use for their errant behavior? Could one get out of vehicular manslaughter charges by blaming it on their brain?
I suppose now that this research, even though it's been around a while, is becoming popular we will start seeing this in courts real soon, if we haven't already. It is interesting neurological science and it is too bad that it might be tainted in this manner.
Now don't /msg me telling me I'm an idiot and that you've done plenty of boneheaded things recently and you're over 25, because A) Is that something you really want to brag about? B) And you're saying I'm stupid? and C)I'd much rather you /msg me and try to prove this theory of neuroscience.
Yes, let's make this fun. Message me and tell me the dumbest thing you've ever done when under age 25. I'll add them to the bottom of this write up. If you like, I'll use a fake username for you. Or if you have already related to us stupid things you've done in your youth, or maybe recently if you are still under 25, softlink them below. Or, of course, if you know of any nodes, daylog or otherwise, done by somebody else, link those, too.
Now, some of you might be saying "well, gee, he's saying message him about things I've done under age 25, what does that prove? I did something really stupid last week!" If you really would like to tell me about something asinine you did when over 25, all right, feel free.
But, again, is that really something you'd love to brag about?
Some of you might be wondering why I'm not providing my own anectdotal evidence. Well, the list of stupid things I did before age 25 is very long and it's hard to point out any one thing. Call me a chicken if you like, I'll get over it. Besides, telling you about how stupid I was back then would be, well, stupid, and as of writing this, I am 28 and I'm not supposed to do stupid things anymore.:)
Scapegoatfortheworld asks: does doing the can-can naked and drunk with your buddy in front of a cop shop and passing out on the hood of a cop car right afterwards count?
Not sure if that actually means he did it or not.
Chiisuta says: At 16, I kicked the door of a car containing two rather huge gentleman, one of whom had propositioned me. They then exited their car and threatened to beat the living crap out of me and my companion. Luckily they did not make good on their threat.
cbustapeck says: Let's see, pushing a freshly cut maple log through a table saw with my hand in an effort to saw it down into boards was pretty stupid... and I did that, last year, when I was but 23.
LudditeAndroid says: joined the GD Folk, loaned several thousands to friends and relatives (only relatives paid back), majored in a field with crap pay, and bought a minidisc player and a PDA. Stupid stupid stupid.
Major General Panic says: I've had second-degree burns in the shape of ducks, happy faces, and Abraham Lincoln.