This Science Daily article describes recent findings published in PNAS regarding the development of functional connections in the adolescent brains. The study in question discovered that during this period, certain connections in the brain undergo a conservative pattern of change whereas others undergo a disruptive pattern. This active re-modelling in adolescent brains could potentially be linked to the high prevalence of mental health disorders in teenagers.
The intent of the research paper is clearly explained, and the author effectively summarizes the research process as well as the findings. The possible implications of this research are also mentioned, although more emphasis on this point would have been an interesting addition to the article. Furthermore, the author makes sure to include the limitations of this study which adds to the overall credibility of the article.
The author does an excellent job of making the results of the finding accessible to the general public, particularly through their use of a computer analogy to explain neural network activation. Moreover, they remain neutral throughout the article and avoid making any unbacked claims.
This article does have a few flaws, primarily its lack of accessibility. The author is not named which makes it very challenging to find more of their publications or identify a potential conflict of interest. In addition, rather than providing us with multiple perspectives, no sources from outside the research article are mentioned. Finally, the image selected did not add anything to the article, it was simply there for the sake of having some form of visual aid.
In this Science Daily article, a study conducted at the University of Cambridge on the development of brain networks in adolescents is described thoroughly and in a jargon-free manner. The study, published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), describes two distinct modes of change in the functional connectivity of adolescent brains using functional MRI (fMRI). The results demonstrate that one mode of change is through the strengthening of basic sensory and motor regions, and a second mode is through the strengthening of some and weakening of other regions normally activated by complex tasks. Therefore, the authors concluded that there is a remodelling of functional connectivity in adolescent brains that may elucidate the increased risk of mental health challenges among this age group.
The article effectively described the intent of the research study, along with accurately presenting the methods and results. While the title of the article may be somewhat far-reaching in its suggestion of this network remodelling having a distinct purpose of preparing teenagers for adult life, the article as a whole is free of sensationalist language and does not use fearmongering as a tactic. The article also describes the limitations of using fMRI for measuring functional connectivity, thus adding to the overall validity of the article.
While there are few unsourced claims, a limitation of the article is that multiple perspectives were not provided, and instead three sources directly from the research paper itself were used as sources. While the insight of the co-authors of the study is useful, it could have been helpful to have an independent source speak to some of the claims and methods of the study at hand. Additionally, the author’s contact information was not provided and therefore there was no way to contact them or to elucidate the possibility of a potential conflict of interest in their writing; however, the research study was publicly available and cited at the end of the article. Overall, this article was well written and was able to describe complicated findings in easily translatable terms for a lay audience.
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