Insightful post! I tend to agree with you on most of your points. There are numerous changes that tend to occur in an adolescent’s body. The brain also tend to change significantly during this stage. It’s important to know the physiological changes that can be expected when someone is an adolescent. I think one change we don’t talk about enough is synapses. Synapses are connections between neurons that act as the point of communication. They’re responsible for communicating information throughout the brain and they grow stronger as they’re used. Reading, writing, and solving math problems will slowly strengthen them.
I find it interesting that you have noted that when the prefrontal cortex is developing, the amygdala is what the adolescent will rely on, which makes decisions and solves problems. In some ways this makes sense, because most psychologists would agree that adolescents are impulsive and start to make decisions based on the amygdala, rather than the prefrontal cortex. I have also noticed that even when my children get older, they use their prefrontal cortex to help solve problems, but tend to rely more on the amygdalae as well. If a child thinks something is wrong with his or her teacher or parent they may react faster and more aggressively as opposed to using their thoughts and reasoning to come up with an appropriate response. All of this ties back in with your post, because if they are not using their prefrontal cortex on a regular basis now, eventually they will be forced to rely fully on it later in life. From the conversation with your 17-year-old cousin, it is clear that an adolescent’s body and mind tend to change a lot. Their thought process tend to develop greatly and thus enhance their decision making strategies and planning.