Understanding the intentions of others is fundamental to human cooperation and how we exist as social beings.
A teenager's way of looking into other's perception is connected to the changes that take place in his/her brain.
The study is the first of its kind to provide evidences for the link between one's behavioural change and structural change.
Previous research indicated that there are certain areas of the social brain relating to how we care about others or "social inference," continue to undergo cortical development until late adolescence. As demonstrated by the following time-lapse video, these changes include the thinning of the brain's cortex, which likely reflect synaptic reorganization in how brain regions are connected and communicate with each other.
Researchers evaluated how participants used two different cognitive strategies when making their decision using computational modeling, and then investigated how these processes correlated with measurements of participants' cortical thickness, as obtained through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Senior author Luke Chang, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and the director of the Computational Social Affective Neuroscience Laboratory (Cosan Lab) at Dartmouth, ""This work provides converging evidence in line with other research that the computation of inferring intentions is processed in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex."
Adding, "We were surprised that this shift in preference for considering others' intentions occurred so late in development. Of course, younger children can infer the intentions of others, but we see that this ability continues to be refined well into late adolescence. This finding has potential implications regarding how much autonomy this age group should be given when making important social and ethical decisions, such as purchasing weapons, going to war, and serving on juries."
The study has been published in Scientific Reports.
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