Inside the Teenage Brain Frontline Discussion Questions

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

'Inside the Teenage Brain' is the 11th episode of season 20 of the news magazine television show 'Frontline.' This asset contains discussion questions about the scientific studies about teenagers that are revealed in this episode.

Inside the Teenage Brain

While people have suspected for generations that there is something different about the way teenagers think, Inside the Teenage Brain by Sarah Spinks reveals scientific evidence that proves this claim. The following questions provide a guide for classroom discussions about this episode of Frontline.


This section discusses some of the stereotypical behavior of teenagers and how changes in the frontal cortex before puberty influence this behavior.

  • What are some of the struggles Charles' parents face when getting him reading for school in the morning? Why do you think Charles behaves differently at home than he does with his friends? What are some ways you are like Charles? How are you and Charles different?
  • What are some ways Charles' parents are trying to adjust to the changes in Charles? What are some things Charles can do to improve his relationship with his parents? Why are the teenage years so hard for families?
  • Why is Colin having an MRI of his brain? Who is Charles Nelson? How is brain growth in teenagers similar to brain growth in babies? What advice does Nelson offer parents of teenagers?
  • Who is Jim Borgman? Why is Borgman interested in learning about the teenage brain? What are some teenage stereotypes that are included in the Zits cartoon? Do you think these stereotypes are fair and accurate? Explain your answer.
  • Who is Dr. Jay Giedd? What changes did he find in the brain before puberty? What are the implications for the development of teenage interests?
  • How does brain development explain risk-taking behavior in teens? What are some risk-taking behaviors you and your friends have engaged in? How does this information influence your future decisions?


This section provides questions about how brain development and lifestyle choices influence teenage moods, behavior, and learning.

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