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  The neurodevelopmental precursors of altruistic behavior in infancy

Grossmann, T., Missana, M., & Krol, K. M. (2018). The neurodevelopmental precursors of altruistic behavior in infancy. PLoS Biology, 16(9): e2005281. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.2005281.

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Item Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0002-6392-9 Version Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-4FAB-4
Genre: Journal Article

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Grossmann, Tobias1, 2, Author              
Missana, Manuela1, 3, Author              
Krol, K. M.1, 4, Author              
Affiliations:
1Department Neuropsychology, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_634551              
2Department of Psychology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, ou_persistent22              
3 Institute of Educational Sciences, University of Leipzig, Germany, ou_persistent22              
4Max Planck Research Group Early Social Development, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_1356545              

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 Abstract: Altruistic behavior is considered a key feature of the human cooperative makeup, with deep ontogenetic roots. The tendency to engage in altruistic behavior varies between individuals and has been linked to differences in responding to fearful faces. The current study tests the hypothesis that this link exists from early in human ontogeny. Using eye tracking, we examined whether attentional responses to fear in others at 7 months of age predict altruistic behavior at 14 months of age. Our analysis revealed that altruistic behavior in toddlerhood was predicted by infants’ attention to fearful faces but not happy or angry faces. Specifically, infants who showed heightened initial attention to (i.e., prolonged first look) followed by greater disengagement (i.e., reduced attentional bias over 15 seconds) from fearful faces at 7 months displayed greater prosocial behavior at 14 months of age. Our data further show that infants’ attentional bias to fearful faces and their altruistic behavior was predicted by brain responses in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC), measured through functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). This suggests that, from early in ontogeny, variability in altruistic helping behavior is linked to our responsiveness to seeing others in distress and brain processes implicated in attentional control. These findings critically advance our understanding of the emergence of altruism in humans by identifying responsiveness to fear in others as an early precursor contributing to variability in prosocial behavior.

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Language(s): eng - English
 Dates: 2018-01-052018-08-172018-09-25
 Publication Status: Published online
 Pages: -
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 Rev. Method: Peer
 Identifiers: DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.2005281
PMID: 30252842
PMC: PMC6155440
Other: eCollection 2018
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Title: PLoS Biology
  Other : PLoS Biol.
Source Genre: Journal
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Publ. Info: San Francisco, California, US : Public Library of Science
Pages: - Volume / Issue: 16 (9) Sequence Number: e2005281 Start / End Page: - Identifier: ISSN: 1544-9173
CoNE: https://pure.mpg.de/cone/journals/resource/111056649444170