Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Parts Of Brain Involved In Social Cognition May Be In Place By Age Six

Date:
July 16, 2009
Source:
Society for Research in Child Development
Summary:
By scanning the brains of children ages 6 to 11 as they listened to children's stories, researchers have for the first time investigated brain regions associated with social cognition in human children. Researchers found that one of the brain regions, the right tempero-parietal junction, appeared to change its function between the ages of 6 and 11. This research has implications for the study of atypical social development, as happens in autism.

Social cognition—the ability to think about the minds and mental states of others—is essential for human beings. In the last decade, a group of regions has been discovered in the human brain that are specifically used for social cognition. A new study in the journal Child Development investigates these brain regions for the first time in human children. The study has implications for children with autism.

Related Articles


Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Yale University scanned the brains of 13 children ages 6 to 11 as they listened to children's stories. At the moment the plot of the stories revealed what a character wanted, believed, or knew, or presented the mental state of the character, the researchers observed increased activity in these specific brain regions. When the story turned to other topics—such as the physical world or the visual appearance of the characters—activity in these brain regions went back down.

On the whole, activity in the "social brain" of the children—the parts of their brains that are used for social cognition—looked very similar to the patterns previously observed in adults. But there was one intriguing difference: One of the brain regions, the right tempero-parietal junction, appeared to change its function between the ages of 6 and 11. At age 6, the brain region played a general role in thinking about people, but by age 11, this same brain region appeared to take on a more specialized role in thinking just about others' thoughts.

"What we found—a pattern of typical development—may offer clues as we study atypical social development, as happens in autism," according to Rebecca Saxe, the Fred and Carole Middleton Career Development Professor of cognitive neuroscience at MIT, who led the study.

"Children with autism appear to have specific difficulties thinking about other people's thoughts. Understanding how human brains typically learn to think about thoughts may let us detect what is going wrong in an autistic brain, and maybe even target interventions toward those neural systems, to improve chances for recovery."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Research in Child Development. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Saxe, R, Whitfield-Gabrieli, S, Scholz, J, and Pelphrey, KA. Brain Regions for Perceiving and Reasoning About Other People in School-Aged Children. Child Development, Vol. 80, Issue 4

Cite This Page:

Society for Research in Child Development. "Parts Of Brain Involved In Social Cognition May Be In Place By Age Six." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090715074930.htm>.
Society for Research in Child Development. (2009, July 16). Parts Of Brain Involved In Social Cognition May Be In Place By Age Six. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090715074930.htm
Society for Research in Child Development. "Parts Of Brain Involved In Social Cognition May Be In Place By Age Six." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090715074930.htm (accessed January 26, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, January 26, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

How Technology Is Ruining Snow Days For Students

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) More schools are using online classes to keep from losing time to snow days, but it only works if students have Internet access at home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

Weird Things Couples Do When They Lose Their Phone

BuzzFeed (Jan. 24, 2015) Did you back it up? Do you even know how to do that? Video provided by BuzzFeed
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Smart Wristband to Shock Away Bad Habits

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 23, 2015) A Boston start-up is developing a wristband they say will help users break bad habits by jolting them with an electric shock. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amazing Technology Allows Blind Mother to See Her Newborn Son

Amazing Technology Allows Blind Mother to See Her Newborn Son

RightThisMinute (Jan. 23, 2015) Not only is Kathy seeing her newborn son for the first time, but this is actually the first time she has ever seen a baby. Kathy and her sister, Yvonne, have been legally blind since childhood, but thanks to an amazing new technology, eSight glasses, which gives those who are legally blind the ability to see, she got the chance to see the birth of her son. It&apos;s an incredible moment and an even better story. Video provided by RightThisMinute
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins