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Dr. Elisabeth Guthrie On Children and Impulsivity

Could Walkable Communities Reduce Pedestrian Death Rates Among Kids?
February 27, 2013

... generally, children in the five-to-nine range are least able to successfully gauge and manage traffic risks and are most likely to run into the roadway without looking.

“They’re lacking inhibitory control,” Dr. Elisabeth Guthrie told me in an email. Dr. Guthrie is a child psychiatrist board-certified in pediatrics and neuro-developmental disabilities at Columbia Psychiatry in New York. “So basically, they’re not able to stop and delay and then proceed. They just go. They’re thinking about what’s on the other side of the street. The reason is both behavioral and neurological.

“The two [behavior and neurology] are totally related, and it has to do with what’s going on in brain development,” she wrote. “So basically the frontal cortex and specifically the prefrontal cortex of the brain is maturing from school-age years up into adolescence.” As this part of our brain develops, she explained, we get better at the “executive functions” it governs, such as making the decision on when to cross a busy road.




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