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Neural correlates of mentalising and empathy in adolescence and adulthood. Essi Viding, Nathalie Fontaine, Catherine Sebastian, & Sarah-Jayne Blakemore. Vollm et al., 2006; Neuroimage. Mentalising cartoons.

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Neural correlates of mentalising and empathy in adolescence and adulthood


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    1. Neural correlates of mentalising and empathy in adolescence and adulthood Essi Viding, Nathalie Fontaine, Catherine Sebastian, & Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

    2. Vollm et al., 2006; Neuroimage Mentalising cartoons • Mentalising and affective empathy engage partially overlapping, but distinct neuronal networks in adults • Overlapping: • mPFC • TPJ • Distinct: • ToM – lateral OFC, middle frontal gyrus • Empathy – amygdala, ACC • Adolescents undergo brain development in all these regions • Amygdala [males only?] • fMRI data comparing adolescents and adults on mentalising, but not affective empathy • Adolescents activate mPFC more than adults Empathy cartoons Physical cartoons not shown

    3. Do we replicate the finding of greater mPFC activation during mentalising/empathy in male adolescents vs. adults? Do we see differences between adolescents and adults in the distinct areas implicated in affective empathy? • Participants: 15 male adolescents (age 12-17 years); 15 male adults (age 20-30) • Cartoon Task (Modified and piloted version of Vollm et al., 2006) • Conditions: • Mentalising (10 cartoons; repeated 3 times) • Empathy (10 cartoons; repeated 3 times) • Physical Causality (10 cartoons; repeated 3 times) • 30 sec block (M; E; or PC); 2 x 11 sec cartoons per block; 3sec Instruction/blank per cartoon; 1 sec ISI after each cartoon • For each story: ’What comes next’ is asked once during the task • Nth story with instruction and side of correct answer counterbalanced across participants • Total task duration = 22 minutes 30 sec

    4. Analyses: • 2x2; age x empathy type (M or E); • Contrasts e.g. (adultsE - adults M)-(adolescE – adolescM) • Also possible to look at M and E against PC • 2x2; age x cartoon type (M or PC) • 2x2; age x cartoon type (E or PC) • Brain coverage: • Whole & ROIs; specific sequences to get mPFC and amygdala • Predictions: • Adolescent boys will activate their mPFC more than adults during mentalising • Adolescent boys will activate their amygdala more and ACC (rostral?) less during empathising