People Don’t Become ‘Adults’ Until Their 30s, Scientists Say

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People don't really become adults until their 30s, scientists say

People don’t become fully “adult” until they’re in their 30s, according to brain scientists in the United Kingdom. 

Currently, under UK law people are officially recognized as a “mature adult” when they reach the age of 18.

BBC News reports: Scientists who study the brain and nervous system say the age at which you become an adult is different for everyone.

Research suggests people aged 18 are still going through changes in the brain which can affect behaviour and make them more likely to develop mental health disorders.

Professor Peter Jones, from Cambridge University, said: “What we’re really saying is that to have a definition of when you move from childhood to adulthood looks increasingly absurd.

“It’s a much more nuanced transition that takes place over three decades.”

He added: “I guess systems like the education system, the health system and the legal system make it convenient for themselves by having definitions.”

When you reach 18, you can vote, buy alcohol, get a mortgage and are also treated as an adult if you get in trouble with the police.

Despite this, Professor Jones says he believes experienced criminal judges recognise the difference between a 19-year-old defendant and a “hardened criminal” in their late 30s.

“I think the system is adapting to what’s hiding in plain sight, that people don’t like (the idea of) a caterpillar turning into a butterfly,” he said.

“There isn’t a childhood and then an adulthood. People are on a pathway, they’re on a trajectory.”

Prof Jones is one of a number of experts who are taking part in a neuroscience meeting hosted by the Academy of Medical Sciences in Oxford.


  1. Marxist propaganda. That is decades established, nothing new. The “new” legal ages are stepping stones to age 30 (19, 21, 25). If you keep someone in perpetual puberty and toddlerhood until age 30, when the brain “solidifies”, there’s then the lowest probability that they will ever grow up or learn to think differently.

    Puberty is the last of three 6-year cycles, lasting from about age 12 to 18. That is where the legal age of 18 comes from. Judging adulthood by puberty completion, already not the greatest idea. This is why 18 was chosen instead of 16, a far more suitable age to assign legal rights to a human being in the modern world than 18.

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