Non-invasive mapping of brain structure and function with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has opened up unprecedented opportunities for studying the neural substrates underlying cognitive development. There is an emerging consensus of a continuous increase throughout adolescence in the volume of white matter, both global and local. There is less agreement on the meaning of asynchronous age-related decreases in the volume of grey matter in different cortical regions; these might equally represent loss ("pruning") or gain (intra-cortical myelination) of tissue. Functional MRI studies have so far focused mostly on executive functions, such as working memory and behavioural inhibition, with very few addressing questions regarding the maturation of social cognition. Future directions for research in this area are discussed in the context of processing biological motion and matching perceptions and actions.