Intrinsic network interactions explain individual differences in mentalizing ability in adolescents

Mariët van Buuren*, Nikki C. Lee, Iris Vegting, Reubs J. Walsh, Hester Sijtsma, Miriam Hollarek, Lydia Krabbendam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Mentalizing is an important aspect of social cognition and people vary in their ability to mentalize. Despite initial evidence that mentalizing continues to develop throughout adolescence, it is unclear which neural mechanisms underlie individual variability in mentalizing ability in adolescents. Interactions within and between the default-mode network (DMN), frontoparietal network (FPN) and cingulo-opercular/salience network (CO/SN) have been related to inter-individual differences in cognitive processes in both adults and adolescents. Here, we investigated whether intrinsic connectivity within and between these brain networks explained inter-individual differences in affective mentalizing ability in adolescents. Resting-state brain activity was measured using functional MRI and affective mentalizing ability was defined as correct performance on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test performed outside the scanner. We identified the DMN, FPN and CO/SN, and within and between network connectivity values were submitted to a bootstrapping enhanced penalized multiple regression analysis to predict mentalizing in 66 young adolescents (11–14 years). We showed that stronger connectivity between the DMN and the FPN, together with lower within-network connectivity of the FPN and the CO/SN predicted better mentalizing performance. These novel findings provide insight into the normative developmental trajectory of the neural mechanisms underlying affective mentalizing in early adolescence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107737
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
Early online date28 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2021


  • Adolescence
  • Connectivity
  • Default mode network
  • Frontoparietal network
  • Mentalizing
  • Resting-state


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