Social Development

brasscoffeeAI and Robotics

Nov 17, 2013 (3 years and 8 months ago)


Social Development

Brain system involved in social

Limbic system


Memory areas


Anterior cingulate

Ventral prefrontal cortex

Areas specific to different tasks and behaviors

Face areas

Amygdala and hippocampus


Thalamus and hypothalamus

Anterior Cingulate

Prefrontal Cortex

Face Recognition

Are faces special?

What brain systems are involved in
processing faces?

Is experience important for face

1. Faces are special

Infants respond to faces as though they
are special

Prefer to look at faces and stimuli that are like

Case study of child with damage to
fusiform face area

2. Brain systems for faces
changes from early to later infancy

Nature of face recognition must be
considered in light of the tasks used to
measure it.

Face preference declines and then returns

Early in development, responses to faces
is subserved by subcortical mechanisms

With development, cortical mechanisms
take over for subcortical ones

How are faces processed?

Adults process the face as a whole,

Inversion effect

We process faces better if they’re upright than if
they’re upside down

This effect is slow to emerge in children, but it
might depend on how you measure it

This processing is dominated by the right
hemisphere in the brain

There is some controversy over
whether/when children use configural
strategies when processing faces

More traditional methods of measuring
configural processing don’t show a shift
from featural to configural processing until
over 5 years of age

Brain system for faces


Visual system/ventral stream

Fusiform face area

Possibly other areas

Areas related to social responses

Expertise view

Activity in the fusiform face area is
observed in face processing

Activity in the same area is observed when
experts view stimuli in areas at which they
are experts.

Do infants become “experts” at processing

Studies of face processing

Recognition of the mother’s face

Newborn infants attend more to their mother’s
face in a very short period of time

olds’ ERPs to mother’s face are
different than to a stranger’s face

Increased amplitude of the Nc component to
mother’s face

Implies that 6
olds attend preferentially to
mother’s face.

Development in face processing

olds also respond differentially to
mother’s face and a stranger’s face

However, their responses are larger to
strangers than to mother

By 4 years of age, children attend
preferentially to strangers

The change is due to age
differences in response to mother’s face

Face specific ERP activity

N170 component is specific to faces and
occurs over right hemisphere

Precursors to this component are
observed in infants as young as 6 months
of age.

This component is abnormal in people with

Face recognition in autism

Children with autism fail to respond differently to
mother’s face and a stranger’s face

Children with autism do respond differentially to
familiar and unfamiliar objects

Possible explanations?

There is something wrong with a “face module” in their

They do not attend to faces, so they never develop
cortical control of face processing

They do not attend to faces, so they don’t become
experts in faces

Autism data

Emotion recognition

Probably involves amygdala as well as
face recognition areas

There is some evidence that experience
has an effect

Role of experience in emotion

Infants respond differently (ERP, looking
time) to positive than to negative

Progression of responses

First infants differentiate positive from
negative, then differentiate within negative
between fear, anger, etc.

Older children are still developing
expression recognition: 9

and 10
olds treat neutral like fear

Categorical perception of emotion

Children who have been abused have
category boundaries that are closer to the
negative end of the continuum, especially
for anger

Exam 2

100 % (average of 2 high scores) = 95.75

90% (A cutoff) = 86.18

80% (B) = 76.6

70% (C) = 67.03

60% (D) = 57.45

Emotion regulation

Normal pattern of emotion regulation

Positive emotions

more left lateralized

Negative emotions

more right lateralized

This pattern is not seen in adults with depression

These EEG patterns can be elicited in children

Looking at expressions, stories, play, separation

Children whose mothers are depressed have brain
patterns like depressed adults

This effect may be moderated by the attachment

Social Cognition

How children understand others

Social Referencing

Joint Attention

Theory of mind

Theories about brain systems

Connections between amygdala and
Ventral prefrontal cortex

Experience with positive feedback leads to
repeating positive behavior, increased
sharing of attention (Ventral PFC)

Probably not that simple

Dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex, including
motor planning areas and frontal eye fields
are activated in initiating joint attention and in
Theory of Mind



Developments in response to mother’s face
and stranger’s face might be related to
attachment stage

Strange situation elicits increased heart rate,
right lateralized EEG, increased cortisol

Cortisol effects may vary by attachment, results
are mixed, and this may only apply to disorganized
attachment, or differences between avoidant and
disorganized children

Attachment (cont.)

Studies of monkeys separated from

Changes in norepinephrine

Effects on behavior


Lack of normal relationship development

May have impact on structure or function in
amygdala, hippocampus

Peer relationships?


Other aspects of social behavior?