Question about prefrontal cortex devlopment and consent

May 2012
2
0
Okay, I took some very cursory psychology classes in college and I learned that the human prefrontal cortex which governs human decision making in several different ways* doesn't reach full maturity until age 25.


I just recently turned 25 and my girlfriend is about to turn 21. This may sound like a silly question but: Is there a big enough difference between our ability to make decisions that its unethical for me to engage in a sexual relationship with her?

Also, I really do have OCD and it does hit a lot of moral and philosophical issues. I'm sure this question initially arose as a symptom of that, but I think I've managed to divorce it from my obsessiveness to the point its just a question now. I also thought I'd give it a shot because unlike a lot of other ethical questions, this one might have a tangible answer that can be found through scientific inquiry.

* taken from US National Institute of Health:
The prefrontal cortex is one of the last regions of the brain to reach maturation. This delay may help to explain why some adolescents act the way they do. The so-called “executive functions” of the human prefrontal cortex include:

Focusing attention
Organizing thoughts and problem solving
Foreseeing and weighing possible consequences of behavior
Considering the future and making predictions
Forming strategies and planning
Ability to balance short-term rewards with long term goals
Shifting/adjusting behavior when situations change
Impulse control and delaying gratification
Modulation of intense emotions
Inhibiting inappropriate behavior and initiating appropriate behavior
Simultaneously considering multiple streams of information when faced with complex and challenging information
 
Dec 2008
609
0
nil
[quote author=ocddude link=topic=2775.msg20118#msg20118 date=1336672735]
I just recently turned 25 and my girlfriend is about to turn 21. This may sound like a silly question but: Is there a big enough difference between our ability to make decisions that its unethical for me to engage in a sexual relationship with her?
[/quote]

I'm inclined to say no, the difference is negligible and is completely ethical to engage in sexual congress with your girlfriend. True, her brain is not finished fully developing, but by age 21 she should have sufficient cognitive capacities to make her own informed decisions regarding her body.