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How do young people develop into adults?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
There are three ways that young people develop into adults, and they’re all interconnected. Although you can take different pathways, all potential pathways influence one another:
  • Biological processes produce changes in your physical nature and include genes inherited from parents, brain development, height and weight gains, changes in motor skills, and the hormonal changes of puberty.
  • Cognitive processes refer to changes in your thinking abilities, intelligence, and language. Putting together a sentence, memorizing a poem, mastering trigonometry, imagining what it would be like to be a movie star, and solving a crossword puzzle all involve cognitive processes. Tempted to jump out a window because it looks like fun? Your executive function, or frontal lobe processing, would help you figure out whether it is a first-floor window and safe or whether it’s a recipe for a broken leg (or worse).
  • Social and emotional processes involve changes in your relationships with other people, changes in emotions, and changes in personality. An infant’s smile in response to a parent’s touch, an adolescent’s joy at seeing a favorite band perform on stage, your relief when your classmates stop calling you your least favorite nickname, or the trauma of getting cut from the team all reflect the role of social-emotional processes in development.    

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.