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A fully developed brain is not necessary for critical thinking and decision making. It may be necessary to solve equations without a pen and paper, for example, but it is not necessary to decide when and with whom to have sex.

It's true that a developing brain can still think critically, but it won't perform at the same level as if it were fully developed. How far along do you believe a brain needs to be developed in order to make decisions regarding sexual consent? Should the brain be capable of performing hypothetical-deductive reasoning? Only concrete reasoning? Where are you drawing the line in regards to development?

I see that Traveler already drew attention to the prefrontal cortex in her quote from NPR, but it's worth going into a bit more detail. The prefrontal part of the brain is THE driving force in sexual motivation and decision making, and during puberty it is underdeveloped.[1] Look at those keywords again: underdeveloped, sexual, decision making. That's really all that needs to be said. And post-puberty, the prefrontal cortex is still growing- one of the most notable changes is synaptogenesis and it's pruning process: trimming synaptic connections and making the cortex more efficient.

So I would say that a fully developed brain is necessary to make the best decisions concerning sex. With regards to your point about age being irrelevant- it's relevant, primarily because of the developmental reason above.
 1. It's also responsible for many other extremely important tasks such as organizing, cognition/working memory, etc.
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Traveler Thank you for expanding on that very important point. June 13, 2012, 02:50:35 PM