Ongoing neural development of affective theory of mind in adolescence

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Affective Theory of Mind (ToM), an important aspect of ToM, involves the understanding of affective mental states. This ability is critical in the developmental phase of adolescence, which is often related with socio-emotional problems. Using a developmentally sensitive behavioral task in combination with functional magnetic resonance imaging, the present study investigated the neural development of affective ToM throughout adolescence. Eighteen adolescent (ages 12–14 years) and 18 young adult women (aged 19–25 years) were scanned while evaluating complex affective mental states depicted by actors in video clips. The ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) showed significantly stronger activation in adolescents in comparison to adults in the affective ToM condition. Current results indicate that the vmPFC might be involved in the development of affective ToM processing in adolescence.


School of Psychology

Document Type

Journal Article

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ERA Access