Development of brain networks for social functions: Confirmatory analyses in a large open source dataset

Hilary Richardson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human observers show robust activity in distinct brain networks during movie-viewing. For example, scenes that emphasize characters’ thoughts evoke activity in the “Theory of Mind” (ToM) network, whereas scenes that emphasize characters’ bodily sensations evoke activity in the “Pain Matrix.” A prior exploratory fMRI study used a naturalistic movie-viewing stimulus to study the developmental origins of this functional dissociation, and the links between cortical and cognitive changes in children’s social development (Richardson et al., 2018). To replicate and extend this work, the current study utilized a large publicly available dataset (n = 241, ages 5–20 years) (Alexander et al., 2017) who viewed “The Present” (Frey, 2014) and completed a resting state scan (n = 200) while undergoing fMRI. This study provides confirmatory evidence that 1) ToM and pain networks are functionally dissociated early in development, 2) selectivity increases with age, and in ToM regions, with a behavioral index of social reasoning. Additionally, while inter-region correlations are similar when measured during the movie and at rest, only inter-region correlations measured during movie-viewing correlated with functional maturity. This study demonstrates the scientific benefits of open source data in developmental cognitive neuroscience, and provides insight into the relationship between functional and intrinsic properties of the developing brain.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100598
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Early online date20 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • theory of mind
  • functional connectivity
  • resting state
  • development
  • fMRI
  • open source data


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