Adolescence is characterized by profound changes in several areas. The maturation of intellectual thought, substantial psychosocial development, and a series of physical changes that reflect neurological and endocrinological processes are intertwined in the process summarized as puberty.
The cognitive changes that become obvious during puberty continue on into
young adulthood. Observations by specialists point out that the acquisition of
operational thought (ability to think abstractly) is able to be correlated to
physical changes in the prefrontal cortex of the
The most obvious physical changes during puberty reflect the influence of powerful hormones. The attainment of adult secondary sexual characteristics (breast maturation, testicular and penile maturation, and pubertal hair), body composition changes, and attainment of fertility are all easily noticed. Less obvious but equally important are changes in cardiovascular function, muscle bulk and strength, and bone density.
This article is designed to provide an overview of the events of puberty, both biological and psychological. In addition, common issues and problems that occur during this period of life will be briefly reviewed. Abnormalities of pubertal development, including premature puberty and delay of the onset of puberty, are reviewed in other articles.
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