MSNBC asks *'Twilight' altering teen minds?*

MSNBC reports:

It's a potentially sucky situation. The vampire craze in teen literature – exemplified by the "Twilight" book series – could be affecting the dynamic workings of the teenage brain in ways scientists don't yet understand.

"We don't know exactly how literature affects the brain, but we know that it does," said Maria Nikolajeva, a Cambridge University professor of literature. "Some new findings have identified spots in the brain that respond to literature and art."

Scientists, authors and educators met in Cambridge, England, Sept. 3-5 for a conference organized by Nikolajeva to discuss how young-adult books and movies affect teenagers' minds.

"For young people, everything is so strange, and you cannot really say why you react to things – it's a difficult period to be a human being," Nikolajeva told LiveScience. The conference, she said, brought together "people from different disciplines to share what we know about this turbulent period we call adolescence."

Sessions included "What Is It About Good Girls and Vampires?" addressing the huge popularity of Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" series and other vampire-themed books. [ The Real Science & History of Vampires ]

Brain science Teenagers' minds are more susceptible than adult minds to influence – from peers and experiences as well as from books, movies and music, researchers say.

"What we have learned over the past decade is that the teenage brain processes information differently than a more mature brain," said conference presenter Karen Coats, a professor of English at Illinois State University who integrates neuroscience into her research. "Brain imaging shows that teens are more likely to respond to situations emotionally, and they are less likely to consider consequences through rational forethought."

That's because the teenage prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for reasoning and risk assessment, goes through a growth spurt before puberty, followed by a period of organizing and pruning of the neural pathways, Coats said.

Linguistic anthropologist Shirley Brice Heath of Stanford University, a keynote speaker at the conference, is studying how reading longer novels habituates the brain toward a greater capacity for sustained attention to visual material.

"What neuroscience opens for us is what happens within the brain during specific activities that take place within identifiable emotional or motivational states," Heath said by e-mail. "For example, we know now that in reading about particular activities (especially those known to the readers), motor-neuronal activity is detected."

Is Bella a good role model? Attendees at the conference included experts in neuroscience, psychology, art, literature and music, as well as writers such as Meg Rosoff, author of "How I Live Now" and other teen titles.

While teens might be turning the pages of " Twilight " for the plot and romance, other takeaways from the books may be having a lasting impact, too.

The series follows Bella, a teenage girl who falls in love with a much older vampire named Edward. Some critics have argued that Bella's passivity, and the story's abstinence-until-marriage message, are anti-feminist.

"If you look very, very clearly at what kind of values the 'Twilight' books propagate, these are very conservative values that do not in any way endorse independent thinking or personal development or a woman's position as an independent creature," Nikolajeva said. "That's quite depressing."

Read the rest of the article HERE..

So what do you think Twifans... as either a teenager or the parent of one, do you agree or disagree with this article?

Views: 19

Comment by Eden Courtney on September 15, 2010 at 10:03am
The Twilight books are about family, love, loyalty, sacrifice, strenght of character, morality, choices, all the important values in life. Edward is not "a much older" vampire - he's 17 - again, I doubt these ppl have really read all the books. I have a 10 yr old granddaughter and she's not interested, but if she were a couple of years older or if I had a daughter who was reading them, I would read them, too and discuss them with her. That is the most important factor with parent/child relationships - talking about whatever if important to them. I couldn't disagree more with this Nikolajeva person. She seem to believe that if a young woman falls in love with a wonderful guy who wants what is best for her more than his own selfish desires that that can't possibly allow for a woman's independence and personal development - why not? And, again, the books are absolutely about Bella's choices, she's not being forced into anything. They just don't get it, perhaps they've never experienced it.
Comment by Aidinslevel on September 15, 2010 at 10:26am
What I gather from articles like this, bottom line is *the fear of the unknown*… most of these scientists and writers want to pick apart something they do not fully understand and yet do not care to take the time to even read or watch the films. There will always be people out there hating on the one thing that brings so much joy into people's lives. They will continually try to spin it into a bad light to suffice their own personal gain in breaking apart a simple joy of a fandom.

My girls are not old enough to understand all of this, but if they were I would be more than happy to explain my outlook on the story and what values and morals are being taught. If they saw Bella as a bad role model or Edward as too controlling I would try and show them and teach them that there are many different ways at looking at a book. Every reader takes away their own outlook and thought of the story and characters.

In the 70's they did the same thing with the fans of Star Wars. They tried to make sense of the phenomena by picking it apart and pointing out what they thought of as flaws. But in the real world, people will love and dedicate themselves to what they find joy in, and no scientist or writer can take that away.
Comment by Eden Courtney on September 15, 2010 at 10:33am
Let's see - Snookie, New Jersey Housewives, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, The Bachelor/Bachelorette...or Twilight? Nuff said.
Comment by Aidinslevel on September 15, 2010 at 10:36am
HA!!! I can see a mother of a teenager sitting there with a DVD of Twilight and a DVD of Jersey Shore and thinking to herself... *which one of these will teach my daugter about love and life better, drunkin' idiot kids or a true love story for the times...hhhmmmmm, choices*...LOL


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