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Mackenzie Brown
Professor Zawilski
RC 2001-410
16 September 2015
The Teenage Brain
Often in todays society, the teenage years are what highlight an individuals life.
Rather the astonishing changes our bodies undergo, the countless reckless acts we engage
in, or the incredible percentage of our population that do not make it through, the teenage
years are the most important stages of our lives. It is within these years that our bodies
grow, mature, and encounter the greatest stress, with changes that directly relate to how
the teenage brain thinks, engages, and differs from adults. Researchers suggest
individuals brains do not fully develop until the early twenties (Dvorsky 2013),
indicating the human mind takes a great deal of time to grow up.
The rise in teenage mental health issues as well as predictions of possible causes
to this rise can be correlated with the increased desire to understand the differences
between the adult and teenage brains. For this, many publications have been constructed
to entertain and extend understanding of the topic. Just as there are multiple ways for
each individual to learn, there are multiple ways for information to be presented. In this
paper, two publications, Why Teenage Brains Are Different From Everyone Elses and
The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction will be evaluated for different rhetorical
properties that appeal to its particular target audience.
The first publication, Why Teenage Brains Act Different From Everyone Elses, is
from the website, Io9. This website is typically used as a click-bait site to increase the

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amount of views and publicity it receives, meaning it is full of commercial
advertisements and other informal elements that promote other sections within it. For
example, many advertisements can be found on the sidebars of this article as well the
gaps between paragraphs. The comment and edit options at the end of the publication also
aid in the informal structure of the publication, indicating that any individual, no matter
the credibility, can add to the topic or comment on its content. This informal style may
lead one to think the publication was created for entertainment purposes, rather than a
scholarly piece.
The style of the publication alone puts certain restrictions on it and declares a
particular target audience. Since the publication serves as an entertainment piece, the
author, George Dvorsky, does not go into depth about the topic. Instead Dvorksy hits
points that give a brief overview of the topic that will still increase the readers knowledge
on the topic somewhat while remaining an easy read. In this case, the target audience is
the same as the discourse community. Dvorsky works to reach the teenage population,
who would most likely be the ones surfing the Io9 website to begin with. With a simple
layout and construct, the teenage population would be able to interpret and easily
understand this topic and not get bored with a substantial amount of reading. The
relatively simple structure of the article, with small paragraphs and the inclusion of
everyones favorite Ninja Turtles, appeals the eyes of teenagers and insures them the
article is not one like they would be required to read for school. This teenage population
is also considered the discourse community because it is the population that would be
directly impacted by the information shared through the publication. For example,
Dvorsky appeals to the teenage population in stating three prevailing myths about teens.

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He includes, Theyre incapable of making optimal decisions, they have no prefrontal
cortex worth taking about, and that they all experience similar degrees of drama and
stress (Dvorsky 3). By adding this, Dvorsky gives teenagers points of conversation that
they may engage in with one another and shows teens that things are not necessarily in
their hands, particularly preconceived notions about their population.
With his target audience teenagers, Dvorsky is confronted with certain constraints
for his publication. The publication must be kept short to insure the attention of the
young audience is not lost at any given point in order for Dvorsky to get is point across.
The language within the publication must also be pretty straight forward, excluding big
words that may confuse the audience or leave them wondering, What the heck is this?
The second publication, The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction, is from The
National Institute of Mental Health. This website is a government regulated website used
to display new findings and scholarly articles regarding psychological topics, particularly
those related to mental health. Since the publication was published under a government
association, we can assume is serves as an informational piece for individuals truly
intrigued by the topic making the target audience those educated on the topic or one
similar, as well as researchers and individuals within the given discipline. With a more
educated target audience, this publication shows more formal elements when compared to
the Io9 publication. To begin, the publication lacks pictures, proving it is strictly for
informational purposes rather than entertainment. The inclusion of denser paragraphs
and formal subtitle headings also aid in showing the formal presentation of the
information.

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With the increase in knowledge of the target audience, the author faces few
constraints. Assuming the audience is sincerely interested in the topic, the author can
make the format of the publication as bland as they want, meaning there is no need to
include pictures or other elements that grab the attention of the readers eyes. The author
may also make the paragraphs as dense as need be and include tough language without
background information, definitions or explanations of specific elements assuming the
audience already has some background knowledge. While the target audience is
specifically for more educated or engaged individuals, the discourse community can
contain both scholarly individuals and teenagers who are interested in this topic and
commit to the understanding of tougher reading.
Despite their different approaches and target audiences, both publications exist as
some sort of backbone to support why teenagers act the way they do and contain a great
amount of rhetorical appeals such as ethos, pathos, and logos. To begin, the publications
greatly differ in the amount of ethos they exhibit. Since Io9 allows anyone to post an
article to the site, the credibility of the site alone is very low. Additionally, the article,
Why Teenage Brains Are Different From Everyone Elses, includes some statistics and
mentions of research done to provide some new information on the topic, but does not
necessarily include major statistics or mentions of credible researchers and sources. On
the other hand, The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction, is regulated by a national
institution, which we can assume would only publish true and observable facts. Opposite
of I09, NIMH includes credible researchers and universities who conducted viable
research on the topic.

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Pathos refers to the emotional aspects within publications that aid in relaying a
message to the audience in a persuasive way. Both publications indirectly relate to the
emotional aspects of the teenage community by supporting them with statistics on what
causes them to act specific ways; however, Io9 includes more of these emotionally
intriguing elements. While NIMH offers statistics and facts of reason, Io9 includes
images and more day-to-day examples that related directly to teenagers and aid in
comforting them. This may also be a product of the less formal approach the Io9
publication takes in comparison to the NIMH. In addition to the myths stated above, the
inclusion of the picture at the beginning of the Io9 publication connects with teenagers in
a more casual approach.
Finally, logos plays a major role in determining the credibility of each publication.
The structure of each publication goes hand in hand with the logos is illustrates. As
mentioned early, the structure of the two publications differ greatly and do so in response
to the different target audiences they are pointed at. Io9 determines the seriousness of its
article at the beginning, pulling the readers initial attention with the large picture of the
Ninja Turtles. On the other hand, NIMH lacks the use of images and captures the
audiences attention directly from its titles. The constraints and target audiences also play
major roles in determining the elements of logos in each publication. In conclusion, both
publications present a form of the same information in a completely different style that
appeals to completely different populations. However, both publications fit a kiotic
moment in that they support teenagers in the rising stigma from adults.
The use of different rhetorical pieces in an educational setting is similar to the
concept of the developing brain. Many individuals think, act, and learn differently which

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is a valid reason as to why teenage developmental years are so unique and challenging to
each individual. Displaying this information in two different educational pieces, although
they serve for many different purposes, helps reach different groups of audiences in
hopes of capturing their personal interests. Rhetorical analysis is a very important
concept in interpreting data and allows different styles of publication that truly relate to
all populations.

Dvorsky, G .(2013). Why Teenage Brains Are Different From Everyone Elses. Io9.
The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction. The National Institute for Mental Health.

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