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Building Healthy Teens

BrainHealth researchers Dr. Jacquelyn Gamino and Maria Johnson reflect on how environment and social connections play a critical role in the adolescent brain on Perspectives Matter.

McCuistion TV

Niki Nicastro McCuistion

Watch this episode below, or visit Perspective Matters


What can we do in daily life to help meet the unique needs of the adolescent brain? The teen years are an incredibly important time for fostering critical thinking, reasoning and socio-emotional skills. Center for BrainHealth researchers Jacquelyn Gamino, PhD, and Maria Johnson, MA, CCC-SLP, reflect on how environment and social connections play a critical role in the adolescent brain with Perspectives Matter host Amanda Schnetzer.Cognitive neuroscientist and leader of the Adolescent Reasoning Initiative™, Dr. Gamino shares why building executive function is so critical in developing minds for fostering higher-level thinking, objectivity and innovation.


"The teen brain is going through an enormous amount of development, more so than at any other time of life, except for infancy. ... The amygdala, the center of our emotional control, develops sooner in the brain, and the connections to the frontal lobe aren't as strong as they will be in adulthood." – Dr. Jacquelyn Gamino, Director of Adolescent Reasoning Initiative
As lead research clinician for Charisma™ Virtual Social Coaching and director of the center's Youth and Family Innovations, Maria Johnson works to understand and support neurodivergent minds and others seeking strategy-focused social coaching. She emphasizes the importance of creating a broad and trustworthy social circle.


"It's not the quantity of peers you're connected to. It's the quality of the relationships and the friendships. It's really not about having the largest friend group, how many people like me, or how popular I am, but instead, it's about the depth and breadth of those relationships. ... We want to surround ourselves with people we can trust. ... It's not just peers. It involves family members, educators, teachers, coaches ..." – Maria Johnson, Director of Youth and Family Innovations

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Jacquelyn Gamino, PhD

Director of Adolescent Reasoning Initiative Assistant Research Professor

Maria Johnson, MA, CCC-SLP

Director, Youth and Family Innovations Lead Research Clinician and Trainer, Charisma Virtual Social Coaching

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