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Bull Menninger Clin. 2003 Spring;67(2):132-42.

The anatomy of mentalization: a view from developmental neuroimaging.

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  • 1Brain Imaging Unit, Child Psychiatry Branch, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, Maryland, USA. jgiedd@mail.nih.gov


The capacity for mentalization emerges from developmental changes in the physical structure of the brain. Although pediatric imaging studies have not directly addressed the process of mentalizing, general principles of brain development may shed light on the neurobiology of mentalization. Increases in white matter, which speeds communication between brain cells, growing complexity of neuronal networks suggested by gray matter changes, and environmentally sensitive plasticity are all essential aspects in a child's ability to mentalize and maintain the adaptive flexibility necessary for healthy transition into adulthood.

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