Adulthood begins at 30: Scientists say that our brains are not fully grown-up when we are in our twenties
- People are highly susceptible to mental health problems in their twenties
- This can resolve around the age of 30 when the brain reaches full maturity
- There is no strict neurological definition of when a child becomes an adult
If the antics of twentysomethings seem childish to you, stop worrying. For we only truly become grown up in our 30s.
While we may legally come of age at 18, the idea this is the dawn of adulthood is ‘increasingly absurd’, brain experts said yesterday.
The rocky path from adolescence varies, with some people making the transition faster than others.
New insights into how the brain is wired and reshaped throughout much of a person’s life have major implications for society, the neuroscientists claim. At 18, the brain is still undergoing major changes.
Neuroscientists believe the brain is still developing at age 18 and doesn’t reach its full adult state until around the age of 30
Our twenties are a time when we are highly susceptible to mental health disorders, something which resolves around the age of 30.
Professor Peter Jones, from Cambridge University, told a press briefing in London: ‘To have a definition of when you move from childhood to adulthood looks increasingly absurd. It’s a much more nuanced transition.
‘I guess systems like the education system, the health system and the legal system make it convenient for themselves by having definitions.’
Speaking ahead of an international neuroscience meeting hosted by the Academy of Medical Sciences in Oxford, Professor Jones said: ‘I think the system is adapting to what’s hiding in plain sight, that people don’t like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.
‘There isn’t a childhood and then an adulthood. People are on a pathway, they’re on a trajectory.’
Young adults may suddenly enter the professional world after school or university but their brain may take another ten years to reach full maturity
Professor Daniel Geschwind, from the University of California at Los Angeles, stressed the degree of individual variability in brain development, saying education systems mistakenly tend to focus on groups, not individuals.
Professor Geschwind added: ‘These are larger questions that go beyond the science.
‘There are individual trajectories… development takes place over decades. But this varies from individual to individual.’
The meeting will discuss research into serious mental disorders. Schizophrenia and other psychotic conditions are now known to arise from a complex interplay of genes and environment.
Schizophrenia is typically diagnosed in older teenagers. The risk of developing it falls dramatically from the late 20s, a pattern thought to be linked to brain development.