March 09, 2005

It's those teenage brains

Was it unconscious coincidence or a way to please viewers who were awake and thinking? The PBS News Hour last night ran an item on the differences between teenagers' brains and adults' in terms of development and abilities to process information and make decisions in particular situations. It found that teenagers take far longer than adults to ponder over a situation where they are asked to choose, e.g. Is eating a cockroach a good idea? Adults took decisions far more rapidly and correctly.
Now immediately afterwards, they ran a discussion on the shooting of the Italian secret agent in Baghdad by US soldiers manning a checkpoint. Many of the US soldiers are teenagers, so you might have expected that military boffins were au fait with the brain research by having a few more mature soldiers doing sensitive work like making decisions on life and death at checkpoints, but no:
Paul Rieckhoff (Operation Truth): These are young kids who are in tremendously difficult areas. Many of them are probably retrained in the last few months to do these jobs. So you've probably got a young guy who is 19 years old on that checkpoint who may have been a truck driver a few months ago.
Another instance of intelligent television, which didn't have to lead you by the hand, but engages you to join the dots.

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