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Developmental difference in function and structure of rSMG and reduced functional connectivity with DLPFC explain increased affective egocentricity bias in childhood

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Steinbeis,  Nikolaus
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Bernhardt,  Boris C.
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Singer,  Tania
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Steinbeis, N., Bernhardt, B. C., & Singer, T. (2014). Developmental difference in function and structure of rSMG and reduced functional connectivity with DLPFC explain increased affective egocentricity bias in childhood. Poster presented at Budapest CEU Conference on Cognitive Development (BCCCD), Budapest, Hungary.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-A29A-7
Abstract
Humans often judge the states of other people egocentrically, assuming that others will feel or think similar to them. Such an emotional egocentricity bias (EEB) occurs frequently in situations when others feel differently to oneself. We studied the neurocognitive mechanisms underlying the developmental capacity to overcome such EEB in children compared to adults using a novel speeded monetary game. We show that children showed a stronger EEB than adults. This was not due to any basic developmental changes in lower level abilities such as fluid intelligence or reorienting attention. Importantly, we show no correlation between the EEB and false-belief attribution, suggesting that affective egocentricity can be differentiated in development from other types of cognitive egocentricity, a dissociation already shown previously in adults. Instead, the functional imaging data suggest that the children’s greatly enhanced EEB compared to adults results from reduced activation in right supramarginal gyrus (rSMG) as well as reduced functional connectivity between rSMG and left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (lDLPFC). Further, functional recruitment of rSMG was associated with age-related differences in cortical thickness of this region. Finally, resting state analyses comparing connectivity patterns of rSMG with rTPJ, a region typically implicated in cognitive perspective-taking and self-other distinction, suggested a unique role of rSMG for self other distinction in the emotional domain. Thus, observed difficulties of children to overcome EEB may be due to the late maturation of brain regions that distinguish between conflicting socio-affective information and then to fully relay this information to regions necessary for implementing accurate judgments.