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Rapidly recognizing and understanding others’ social interactions is an important ability that relies on deciphering multiple sources of information; for example, perceiving body information and inferring others’ intentions. Despite recent advances in characterizing the brain basis of this ability in adults, its developmental underpinnings are virtually unknown. Here, we used fMRI to investigate which sources of social information support superior temporal sulcus (STS) responses to interactive biological motion (i.e. 2 interacting point-light human figures) at different developmental intervals in human participants (of either sex): Children show supportive functional connectivity with key nodes of the mentalizing network, while adults show stronger reliance on regions associated with body- and dynamic social interaction/biological motion processing. We suggest that adults employ efficient action-intention understanding via body and biological motion information, while children show a stronger reliance on hidden mental-state inferences as a potential means of learning to better understand others’ interactive behavior.


  • Social cognition, Biological Motion, Mentalising, Social Interaction, Development, Connectivity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3666-3674
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number20
Early online date24 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2023

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