Emotion modulation of the body-selective areas in the developing brain


  • Ross Paddy D
  • de Gelder Beatrice
  • Crabbe Frances
  • Grosbras Marie-Hélène


  • Body perception
  • Emotion
  • FMRI
  • Children
  • Emotion modulation
  • Functional development

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Emotions are strongly conveyed by the human body and the ability to recognize emotions from body posture or movement is still developing through childhood and adolescence. To date, very few studies have explored how these behavioural observations are paralleled by functional brain development. Furthermore, currently no studies have explored the development of emotion modulation in these areas. In this study, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare the brain activity of 25 children (age 6-11), 18 adolescents (age 12-17) and 26 adults while they passively viewed short videos of angry, happy or neutral body movements. We observed that when viewing dynamic bodies generally, adults showed higher activity than children bilaterally in the body-selective areas; namely the extra-striate body area (EBA), fusiform body area (FBA), posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS), as well as the amygdala (AMY). Adults also showed higher activity than adolescents, but only in the right hemisphere. Crucially, however, we found that there were no age differences in the emotion modulation of activity in these areas. These results indicate, for the first time, that despite activity selective to body perception increasing across childhood and adolescence, emotion modulation of these areas in adult-like from 7 years of age.

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