Schneider N, Greenstreet E, Deoni SCL. Connecting inside out: Development of the social brain in infants and toddlers with a focus on myelination as a marker of brain maturation. Child Development, https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.13649
Early childhood is a sensitive period for learning and social skill development. The maturation of cerebral regions underlying social processing lays the foundation for later social-emotional competence. This study explored myelin changes in social brain regions and their association with changes in parent-rated social-emotional development in a cohort of 129 children (64 females, 0–36 months, 77 White). Results reveal a steep increase in myelination throughout the social brain in the first 3 years of life that is significantly associated with social-emotional development scores. These findings add knowledge to the emerging picture of social brain development by describing neural underpinnings of human social behavior. They can contribute to identifying age-/stage-appropriate early life factors in this developmental domain.