Format

Send to

Choose Destination
Nat Commun. 2018 Mar 12;9(1):1027. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-03399-2.

Development of the social brain from age three to twelve years.

Author information

1
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, 02139, USA. hlrich@mit.edu.
2
Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, 02139, USA.
3
Department of Psychology, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA, 02481, USA.

Abstract

Human adults recruit distinct networks of brain regions to think about the bodies and minds of others. This study characterizes the development of these networks, and tests for relationships between neural development and behavioral changes in reasoning about others' minds ('theory of mind', ToM). A large sample of children (n = 122, 3-12 years), and adults (n = 33), watched a short movie while undergoing fMRI. The movie highlights the characters' bodily sensations (often pain) and mental states (beliefs, desires, emotions), and is a feasible experiment for young children. Here we report three main findings: (1) ToM and pain networks are functionally distinct by age 3 years, (2) functional specialization increases throughout childhood, and (3) functional maturity of each network is related to increasingly anti-correlated responses between the networks. Furthermore, the most studied milestone in ToM development, passing explicit false-belief tasks, does not correspond to discontinuities in the development of the social brain.

PMID:
29531321
PMCID:
PMC5847587
DOI:
10.1038/s41467-018-03399-2
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center