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The stage in human and nonhuman animal development through which a juvenile becomes a reproductively and behaviorally mature adult.
Adolescence is a developmental stage in an animal’s life history that is characterized by both reproductive and behavioral maturation. The terms “puberty” and “adolescence” are often used interchangeably as synonyms. However, it is more accurate to consider adolescence as the period in which an animal transitions into an adult that is reproductively, socially, and cognitively mature (Sisk and Foster 2004), encompassing puberty, which more precisely is the process through which an individual becomes reproductively mature. Specialists in this area argue that reproductive (gonadal) development and behavioral development are distinct processes, driven by separate neurobiological mechanisms, that are linked by interactions between gonadal steroid hormones and the nervous system (Sisk and Foster 2004).
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