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.

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 September 16, 2014 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 September 16, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) A study for University College London suggests obese people who are discriminated against gain more weight than those who are not. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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