July 15, 2009
Brain Area For Social Cognition Present By Age 6

By age 6 brain areas for modeling others have shown up and begun functioning.

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 July/August 2009 issue of 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.

Do people on the autistic spectrum have smaller brain areas dedicated to social cognition? Do adult Aspies have less brain area dedicated to reading others and modeling others? If so, do they have more brain area dedicated to path and reasoning?

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 July 15 10:49 PM  Brain Development

parish mozdzierz said at July 19, 2009 12:40 PM:

V.S. Ramachandran was on Charlie Rose this past Tuesday (7/14/09), detailing some of his work with the brain, particularly with mirror neurons. Autism comes up about 20 min. in, but lots of good nuggets before then.


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