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Dev Cogn Neurosci. 2019 Jun;37:100598. doi: 10.1016/j.dcn.2018.11.002. Epub 2018 Nov 20.

Development of brain networks for social functions: Confirmatory analyses in a large open source dataset.

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Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, 43 Vassar Street, 46-4021, Cambridge, MA, 02139, United States. Electronic address:


Human observers show robust activity in distinct brain networks during movie-viewing. For example, scenes that emphasize characters' thoughts evoke activity in the "Theory of Mind" (ToM) network, whereas scenes that emphasize characters' bodily sensations evoke activity in the "Pain Matrix." A prior exploratory fMRI study used a naturalistic movie-viewing stimulus to study the developmental origins of this functional dissociation, and the links between cortical and cognitive changes in children's social development (Richardson et al., 2018). To replicate and extend this work, the current study utilized a large publicly available dataset (n = 241, ages 5-20 years) (Alexander et al., 2017) who viewed "The Present" (Frey, 2014) and completed a resting state scan (n = 200) while undergoing fMRI. This study provides confirmatory evidence that 1) ToM and pain networks are functionally dissociated early in development, 2) selectivity increases with age, and in ToM regions, with a behavioral index of social reasoning. Additionally, while inter-region correlations are similar when measured during the movie and at rest, only inter-region correlations measured during movie-viewing correlated with functional maturity. This study demonstrates the scientific benefits of open source data in developmental cognitive neuroscience, and provides insight into the relationship between functional and intrinsic properties of the developing brain.


Development; Functional connectivity; Open source data; Resting state; Theory of mind; fMRI

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