Developmental changes in infant brain activity during naturalistic social experiences

Dev Psychobiol. 2015 Nov;57(7):842-53. doi: 10.1002/dev.21336. Epub 2015 Jul 29.


Between 6 and 12 months, typically developing infants undergo a socio-cognitive "revolution." The Interactive Specialization (IS) theory of brain development predicts that these behavioral changes will be underpinned by developmental increases in the power and topographic extent of socially selective cortical responses. To test this hypothesis, we used EEG to examine developmental changes in cortical selectivity for ecologically valid dynamic social versus non-social stimuli in a large cohort of 6- and 12-month-old infants. Consistent with the Interactive Specialization model, results showed that differences in EEG Θ activity between social and non-social stimuli became more pronounced and widespread with age. Differences in EEG activity were most clearly elicited by a live naturalistic interaction, suggesting that measuring brain activity in ecologically valid contexts is central to mapping social brain development in infancy.

Keywords: EEG; infant; interactive specialization; social brain; video deficit effect; Θ power; α power.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Child Development / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Social Perception*
  • Theta Rhythm / physiology*