Psychological Society Conference: Brain `lag' makes teenagers clumsy

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The Independent Online
ADOLESCENT BOYS are clumsy and awkward because their brains cannot keep up with their growth rate, according to new research. But this embarrassing stage should last only a year.

Dr Dorothy Heffernan, of the University of Strathclyde, studied 55 boys aged 12 to 13 - when growth spurts normally occur. In the previous six months, 22 of them had grown rapidly - 5-9cm - and the others, 3cm. She tested the boys' co-ordination using a reaching test: the boys had to estimate how far they could reach with a long pole with a weight at the end and then attempt to do it. The boys in the rapid-growth group over-estimated their ability and were twice as likely to fall over than the other boys.

"Our prediction of how far we can reach is based on an understanding of the size and shapes of our bodies," Dr Heffernan told the British Psychological Society's conference yesterday. "If your body is changing rapidly, your brain needs to update this information. It appears there is a time lag for adolescent boys, which causes them to be clumsy."