Human prosocial behavior (PB) emerges in childhood and matures during adolescence. Previous task-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have reported involvement of the medial prefrontal cortex including the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) in social cognition in adolescence. However, neurometabolic and functional connectivity (FC) basis of PB in early adolescence remains unclear. Here, we measured GABA levels in the ACC and FC in a subsample (aged 10.5–13.4 years) of a large-scale population-based cohort with MR spectroscopy (MEGA-PRESS) and resting-state fMRI. PB was negatively correlated with GABA levels in the ACC (N = 221), and positively correlated with right ACC-seeded FC with the right precentral gyrus and the bilateral middle and posterior cingulate gyrus (N = 187). Furthermore, GABA concentrations and this FC were negatively correlated, and the FC mediated the association between GABA levels and PB (N = 171). Our results from a minimally biased, large-scale sample provide new insights into the neurometabolic and neurofunctional correlates of prosocial development during early adolescence.
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