The current longitudinal study (n = 98) utilized a developmental cognitive neuroscience approach to examine whether and how variability in social perception is linked to social behavior in early human development. Cortical responses to processing dynamic faces were investigated using functional near-infrared spectroscopy at 7 months. Individual differences in sociability were measured using the Early Childhood Behavior Questionnaire at 18 months. Confirming previous work with infants and adults, functional near-infrared spectroscopy results show that viewing changing faces recruited superior temporal cortices in 7-month-old infants, adding to the view that this brain system is specialized in social perception from early in ontogeny. Our longitudinal results show that greater engagement of the right superior temporal cortex at 7 months predicts higher levels of sociability at 18 months. This suggests that early variability in social perception is linked to later differences in overtly displayed social behavior, providing novel longitudinal evidence for a social brain–behavior association.

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