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      Social interaction recruits mentalizing and reward systems in middle childhood

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          Abstract

          <p id="d353944e245">Social cognition develops in the context of reciprocal social interaction. However, most neuroimaging studies of mentalizing have used noninteractive tasks that may fail to capture important aspects of real‐world mentalizing. In adults, social‐interactive context modulates activity in regions linked to social cognition and reward, but few interactive studies have been done with children. The current fMRI study examines children aged 8–12 using a novel paradigm in which children believed they were interacting online with a peer. We compared mental and non‐mental state reasoning about a live partner (Peer) versus a story character (Character), testing the effects of mentalizing and social interaction in a 2 × 2 design. Mental versus Non‐Mental reasoning engaged regions identified in prior mentalizing studies, including the temporoparietal junction, superior temporal sulcus, and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex. Moreover, peer interaction, even in conditions without explicit mentalizing demands, activated many of the same mentalizing regions. Peer interaction also activated areas outside the traditional mentalizing network, including the reward system. Our results demonstrate that social interaction engages multiple neural systems during middle childhood and contribute further evidence that social‐interactive paradigms are needed to fully capture how the brain supports social processing in the real world. </p>

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          Most cited references 33

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          Gender and relationships. A developmental account.

           E Maccoby (1990)
          This article argues that behavioral differentiation of the sexes is minimal when children are observed or tested individually. Sex differences emerge primarily in social situations, and their nature varies with the gender composition of dyads and groups. Children find same-sex play partners more compatible, and they segregate themselves into same-sex groups, in which distinctive interaction styles emerge. These styles are described. As children move into adolescence, the patterns they developed in their childhood same-sex groups are carried over into cross-sex encounters in which girls' styles put them at a disadvantage. Patterns of mutual influence can become more symmetrical in intimate male-female dyads, but the distinctive styles of the two sexes can still be seen in such dyads and are subsequently manifested in the roles and relationships of parenthood. The implications of these continuities are considered.
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            A functional imaging study of cooperation in two-person reciprocal exchange.

            Cooperation between individuals requires the ability to infer each other's mental states to form shared expectations over mutual gains and make cooperative choices that realize these gains. From evidence that the ability for mental state attribution involves the use of prefrontal cortex, we hypothesize that this area is involved in integrating theory-of-mind processing with cooperative actions. We report data from a functional MRI experiment designed to test this hypothesis. Subjects in a scanner played standard two-person "trust and reciprocity" games with both human and computer counterparts for cash rewards. Behavioral data shows that seven subjects consistently attempted cooperation with their human counterpart. Within this group prefrontal regions are more active when subjects are playing a human than when they are playing a computer following a fixed (and known) probabilistic strategy. Within the group of five noncooperators, there are no significant differences in prefrontal activation between computer and human conditions.
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              Imaging the intentional stance in a competitive game.

              The "intentional stance" is the disposition to treat an entity as a rational agent, possessing particular beliefs, desires, and intentions, in order to interpret and predict it's behavior. The intentional stance is a component of a broader social cognitive function, mentalizing. Here we report a study that investigates the neural substrates of "on-line" mentalizing, using PET, by asking volunteers to second-guess an opponent. In order to identify brain activity specifically associated with adoption of an intentional stance, we used a paradigm that allowed tight control of other cognitive demands. Volunteers played a computerised version of the children's game "stone, paper, scissors." In the mentalizing condition volunteers believed they were playing against the experimenter. In the comparison condition, volunteers believed they were playing against a computer. In fact, during the actual scanning, the "opponent" produced a random sequence in both conditions. The only difference was the attitude, or stance, adopted by the volunteer. Only one region was more active when volunteers adopted the intentional stance. This was in anterior paracingulate cortex (bilaterally). This region has been activated in a number of previous studies involving mentalizing. However, this is the first study suggesting a specific link between activity in this brain region and the adoption of an intentional stance.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Human Brain Mapping
                Hum. Brain Mapp.
                Wiley
                10659471
                October 2018
                October 2018
                June 08 2018
                : 39
                : 10
                : 3928-3942
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Psychology; University of Maryland; College Park Maryland, 20742
                [2 ]Neuroscience and Cognitive Science Program; University of Maryland; College Park Maryland, 20742
                [3 ]Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences; Indiana University; Bloomington Indiana, 47405
                [4 ]Department of Psychology; Texas State University; San Marcos Texas, 78666
                Article
                10.1002/hbm.24221
                6128757
                29885085
                © 2018

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