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Dev Cogn Neurosci. 2012 Jan;2(1):55-69. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2011.07.012. Epub 2011 Jul 27.

Self-development: integrating cognitive, socioemotional, and neuroimaging perspectives.

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Department of Psychology, 1227 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-1227, United States.


This review integrates cognitive, socioemotional, and neuroimaging perspectives on self-development. Neural correlates of key processes implicated in personal and social identity are reported from studies of children, adolescents, and adults, including autobiographical memory, direct and reflected self-appraisals, and social exclusion. While cortical midline structures of medial prefrontal cortex and medial posterior parietal cortex are consistently identified in neuroimaging studies considering personal identity from a primarily cognitive perspective ("who am I?"), additional regions are implicated by studies considering personal and social identity from a more socioemotional perspective ("what do others think about me, where do I fit in?"), especially in child or adolescent samples. The involvement of these additional regions (including tempo-parietal junction and posterior superior temporal sulcus, temporal poles, anterior insula, ventral striatum, anterior cingulate cortex, middle cingulate cortex, and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex) suggests mentalizing, emotion, and emotion regulation are central to self-development. In addition, these regions appear to function atypically during personal and social identity tasks in autism and depression, exhibiting a broad pattern of hypoactivation and hyperactivation, respectively.

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