REFLECTIONS

Not yet an adult at 18

What does this then say about the age at which society allows people to drive, marry, watch X-rated movies, drink alcohol and vote?

In Summary

• Research has found that in most people, the brain does not fully mature until age 25

The human brain
The human brain
Image: COURTESY

The rains are upon us and I dabble in amateur photography. You fail to see the connection, understandably, but there is.

If you’ve never seen a photograph taken in the rain, have a gander online and see just how amazing and interesting pictures in the rain of people, places, and objects are. The thing about rain photography, though, is you have to be careful with the equipment as proper cameras — cameras with expensive lenses attached to them — don’t do too well in wet conditions.

As I said, I’m an amateur photography dabbler, meaning that when the spirit moves me to grab my camera to take pictures of random things, once every three months say, I have to familiarise myself again with taking photographs in certain conditions. And so I consulted Google.

 

Turns out most of what I read online I already knew, or rather, I hadn’t forgotten. It was the usual stuff, like protecting your camera from getting wet while taking pictures by using a camera rain cover. A plastic paper bag would do just as well as a cover but this is Kenya, so watch out for the authorities, they take plastic paper bag possession too seriously.

Then there’s stuff on protecting yourself from the weather: long raincoat, warm clothes underneath, weather-appropriate shoes.

And finally, opportunities rainy days present for photography; sunlight breaking through a gap in the clouds, a glorious rainbow, dramatic rain clouds, glistening with rainwater street shots of people, buildings and cars. The wet street surfaces open up a world of reflections.

While skimming through all these tips, I came across this photograph of a young woman, pretty girl, standing in the rain.

There she was (in the picture) on a tree-lined, deserted wet road, in a jungle-green hoodie, grey shirt, black woollen scarf around her neck, dark jeans. Hands stretched out to her sides, head thrown back with eyes closed. She had on this smile of pure joy as rain poured down onto her face. ‘Joyful abandon’ is what I’d call the picture, if I were to title it.

How happy, no, scratch that, how euphoric would you have to be to stand in the rain like that, looking so… ecstatic?

I wouldn’t do it. I’m in my 40s. A 25-year-old, though, would, and with good reason.

 

Recent neuroscience research has found that in most human beings, the brain does not fully mature until the age of 25, though it was always thought that it did by 18. What this means is that technically speaking, most people below the age of 25 are not adults yet because just like teenagers, their prefrontal cortex, the brain’s rational part, is still developing, not fully operational, yet to reach full maturity.

The prefrontal cortex is what adults use to think. It regulates emotions, controls impulsive behaviour, assesses risk and has an awareness of long-term consequences. Teens and most people in their early to mid-twenties, on the other hand, can only process information with the amygdala, the emotional part of the brain. They don’t think so much as feel, which explains the sensation-seeking, risk-taking, standing in the rain, impulsive nature and violence.

What does this then say about the age at which society allows people to drive, marry, watch X-rated movies, drink alcohol and vote?