June 02, 2010
Early And Late Puberty Makes Males Antisocial

Getting started into manhood too early or too late seems to cause more aggressive behavior.

Puberty that arrives earlier or later in adolescent boys relative to their peers can trigger chemicals that are related to antisocial behavior, according to researchers, whose findings have key implications for parents with aggressive boys.

"Aggressive behavior can begin very early, even in pre-school, and might be related to poor impulse control, difficulties in the family or just overall general problem behavior," said Elizabeth J. Susman, the Jean Phillips Shibley professor of biobehavioral health, Penn State. "We wanted to find out if earlier or later timing of puberty in adolescents has any biological factors related to it."

Susman and her colleagues looked at how the timing of puberty affects cortisol, a stress hormone, and salivary alpha amylase, an enzyme in saliva used as indicator of stress. Their findings appear in the May issue of Psychoneuroendocrinology.

But girls do not get turned into antisocial monsters by early or late puberty. (they've got other ways to become monsters)

The researchers found that lower levels of the alpha amylase in boys who experienced earlier maturity and higher levels of cortisol in boys who experienced later maturity are related to antisocial behavior. They found no similar correlation in girls.

I am not surprised by the results of early puberty. All pumped up with testosterone but with less than fully developed brains I'm not surprised they become more dangerous. But the older the kid the more developed the medial temporal lobe and other parts of the brain that help to exert control over beastly impulses. But the results from late puberty are surprising to me. Does a kid who enters puberty late also enter it more stressed to begin with? Or is the late arrival of hormones also too late to cause development of parts of the brain that control impulses?

Also see my post Adolescence Is Tough On The Brain.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2010 June 02 10:48 PM  Brain Development

Dragon Horse said at June 3, 2010 5:40 AM:

Girls who have early puberty tend to become hyper-sexual.

Boys who have late puberty are often not cool, not the athlete, so their anti-social behavior is likely not "genetic" per se, it is a result of late physical puberty. You get picked on and rejected by girls enough because you look 12 when you should look 15, you become anti-social. You start focusing on gaming,and other lonely nerd activities. You are probably insecure/self-conscious. I would bet money you are more likely to shoot up a school and kill yourself, when the early puberty guy is more likely to be the bully of the late puberty guy who caused him to go on a shooting rampage.

As for women, I read late puberty does not do much of anything to them.

Joseph Hertzlinger said at June 5, 2010 11:47 PM:

I'd like to know what they consider "anti-social" behavior. Would spending all one's time reading instead of socializing count as "anti-social"?

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