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In this fMRI study, we investigated the development between adolescence and adulthood of the neural processing of social emotions. Unlike basic emotions (such as disgust and fear), social emotions (such as guilt and embarrassment) require the representation of another's mental states. Nineteen adolescents (10-18 years) and 10 adults (22-32 years) were scanned while thinking about scenarios featuring either social or basic emotions. In both age groups, the anterior rostral medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) was activated during social versus basic emotion. However, adolescents activated a lateral part of the MPFC for social versus basic emotions, whereas adults did not. Relative to adolescents, adults showed higher activity in the left temporal pole for social versus basic emotions. These results show that, although the MPFC is activated during social emotion in both adults and adolescents, adolescents recruit anterior (MPFC) regions more than do adults, and adults recruit posterior (temporal) regions more than do adolescents.

Original publication

DOI

10.1162/jocn.2009.21121

Type

Journal article

Journal

J Cogn Neurosci

Publication Date

09/2009

Volume

21

Pages

1736 - 1750

Keywords

Adolescent, Adolescent Development, Adult, Age Factors, Brain, Brain Mapping, Emotions, Female, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Mother-Child Relations, Neuropsychological Tests, Oxygen, Self Concept, Social Perception, Young Adult