Neurobehavioral processes supporting social competence in typical and atypical development
Mukerji, Cora Emily
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CitationMukerji, Cora Emily. 2020. Neurobehavioral processes supporting social competence in typical and atypical development. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
AbstractWhile some people navigate complex and dynamic social landscapes with ease, others struggle to connect with others. Difficulties in social competence may have enduring consequences for mental health and psychosocial well-being. To better understand typical and atypical patterns of social development, it is critical to investigate how neurobiological and environmental processes shape social behavior. Therefore, the current dissertation explores how neural processes supporting social cognition contribute to variation in healthy social development (Study 1) and how such processes may go awry in atypical development, contributing to marked social difficulties (Study 2). In addition, this dissertation begins to probe the impact of early caregiving on developmental trajectories of self-regulation, a cornerstone of social competence, and their long-term effects on peer relations and mental health (Study 3). Study 1 characterizes neural correlates of theory-of-mind (ToM) among school-age children and demonstrates associations between ToM network function and children’s everyday social cognitive behavior. Study 2 identifies neural correlates of simulation and reveals transdiagnostic associations with global social function across psychiatrically-healthy controls and individuals with schizophrenia, a neurodevelopmental disorder. Using data from the Bucharest Early Intervention Project randomized controlled trial, Study 3 indicates that the effects of early caregiving environments on self-regulation among institutionally-reared youth may emerge over the course of adolescence, and that growth in this pivotal capacity may be a mechanism by which family-based care mitigates the impact of institutionalization on adolescent psychopathology. Together, these three studies begin to elucidate how both neurobiological and environmental processes impact core facets of social competence in typically- and atypically-developing populations, identifying potential targets for future interventions seeking to remediate social difficulties.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37368855
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