Development of the social brain during adolescence
- Publisher: Elsevier
This article describes recent research which informs our understanding of changes in social cognition during adolescence. The focus will be on mentalising, the ability to attribute and manipulate mental states in the self and others. Mentalising is supported by the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) and both anterior and posterior regions of the temporal lobes. In the past decade, studies have demonstrated development during adolescence of white and grey matter brain structure, with most protracted changes observed in frontal and temporal lobes, including those regions supporting mentalising. This article presents evidence that certain aspects of social cognition continue to change during adolescence, highlighting results from recent research investigating the use of theory of mind information in a communicative context. The findings highlight how adolescence, and not only childhood, is a time of continued maturation of brain and behaviour, when education and the environment can have an impact on cognitive development.