[Literature library] Myelination and the developing social brain


Early childhood is a very sensitive period for brain, cognitive as well as behavioral maturation while much social-emotional development and social cognition happens before ~6 years of age.

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This cohort is the first study to investigate myelin changes in social brain regions and their relationship with parent-rated social emotional development. Data from a large observational study of healthy child brain and cognitive development were drawn (n = 129). In brief,

  • Patterns of myelin development within the delineated social-emotional brain regions (amygdala, anterior cingulate, insula, medial orbitofrontal, middle frontal, posterior cingulate, precuneus, rostral middle frontal and superior temporal) indicated a steep increase in myelination throughout the first 2 to 3 years of life
  • The increase was significantly associated with social emotional development scores
  • An increase in population variability with child age was also noted, indicating individual differences in social emotional processing

Link to the full article:


Schneider N et al. Connecting inside out: Development of the social brain in infants and toddlers with a focus on myelination as a marker of brain maturation. Child Dev. 2021. doi: 10.1111/cdev.13649.

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