The following TED Talk reminds me of the subject of “[[mirror neurons]]” and the concept of [[empathy]] as capacitated in part by the development of the [[amygdala]]. One would think the ability to imagine something from another person’s point of view would be similar to being able to “feel” what it would be like to be in their shoes. This is often what I refer to as “Compassion of Mind” where you can entertain and accept someone’s perspective, measured from their own point of view (experiences, knowledge, value preferences) instead of your own.
However, I would posit that teenagers are not as self-centered as much as they lack imagining perspective (as demonstrated here). And from my studies in psychopathology, the ability of someone to feel another’s position is absent, while the skill to anticipate how another will perceive is elemental to cons and cults. Therefore, emotional and intellectual “mirroring” are similar in some principle, and may even share common ground, but are to at least some extent separate spheres altogether.
The other thing that catches my attention in the presentation is the diminishing grey matter volume in the frontal cortex late in adolescence. The speaker expresses a current belief this is due to necessary “synaptic pruning”. It is taken for granted as a good thing, getting rid of “unwanted” connections.
What if this is a function of developing niche abilities corresponding to social conditions regarding division of labor and specialization? After puberty, circumstances dictate using whatever specific skills according to necessity or preference, and in modern educational systems, we are taught to be thinking about focusing on a career path of some sort. Our common skills have developed and our particular interests take a fuller shape, but perhaps at the detriment to other possible paths and abilities.
The bigger “what if” is the theoretical choice to avoid pruning by demanding a varied, rounded education at that age, pushing for diverse cognitive uses. Can this pruning be put off or avoided altogether, ensuring nearly every child to become a “[[Renaissance Man]]”? Maybe we use so little of our brains because we use the same parts too much.