Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience

Published by Oxford University Press (OUP)
Online ISSN: 1749-5024
Publications
Article
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are often associated with impairments in judgment of facial expressions. This impairment is often accompanied by diminished eye contact and atypical amygdala responses to face stimuli. The current study used a within-subjects design to examine the effects of natural viewing and an experimental eye-gaze manipulation on amygdala responses to faces. Individuals with ASD showed less gaze toward the eye region of faces relative to a control group. Among individuals with ASD, reduced eye gaze was associated with higher threat ratings of neutral faces. Amygdala signal was elevated in the ASD group relative to controls. This elevated response was further potentiated by experimentally manipulating gaze to the eye region. Potentiation by the gaze manipulation was largest for those individuals who exhibited the least amount of naturally occurring gaze toward the eye region and was associated with their subjective threat ratings. Effects were largest for neutral faces, highlighting the importance of examining neutral faces in the pathophysiology of autism and questioning their use as control stimuli with this population. Overall, our findings provide support for the notion that gaze direction modulates affective response to faces in ASD.
 
( A – C ) Location of positive correlation between gray matter density change in right amygdala and change in PSS score. Identified cluster overlaid on group-averaged sagittal (A) ( x 1⁄4 32) and coronal (B) ( y 1⁄4 0) structural image. (C) The coronal glass brain image illustrates that no other brain regions were correlated even at a liberal statistical threshold of uncorrected P < 0.01. (D) Average percent change (post-intervention minus pre-intervention) in gray matter density within the identified cluster extracted from each individual plotted against change in PSS scores. For illustrative purposes, voxel values within the identified cluster in the right amygdala were extracted and averaged using Marsbar (Brett et al ., 2002), and values on the x -axis were reversed. 
Article
Stress has significant adverse effects on health and is a risk factor for many illnesses. Neurobiological studies have implicated the amygdala as a brain structure crucial in stress responses. Whereas hyperactive amygdala function is often observed during stress conditions, cross-sectional reports of differences in gray matter structure have been less consistent. We conducted a longitudinal MRI study to investigate the relationship between changes in perceived stress with changes in amygdala gray matter density following a stress-reduction intervention. Stressed but otherwise healthy individuals (N = 26) participated in an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction intervention. Perceived stress was rated on the perceived stress scale (PSS) and anatomical MR images were acquired pre- and post-intervention. PSS change was used as the predictive regressor for changes in gray matter density within the bilateral amygdalae. Following the intervention, participants reported significantly reduced perceived stress. Reductions in perceived stress correlated positively with decreases in right basolateral amygdala gray matter density. Whereas prior studies found gray matter modifications resulting from acquisition of abstract information, motor and language skills, this study demonstrates that neuroplastic changes are associated with improvements in a psychological state variable.
 
The theoretical framework proposed here is designed to understand how culture and the brain might influence one another in dynamic fashion. The key idea is that the influence of culture on brain activities is mediated by repeated long-term engagement in a select set of cultural tasks (scripted behaviors designed to accomplish the primary cultural values such as independence and interdependence). Behavioral responses produced by the culturally patterned neural activities facilitate cultural and biological adaptation by enabling the person to seamlessly perform the cultural tasks of his or her own choosing. Each stage involved in the core process of the culture-mind interaction (depicted on the left) is influenced by a set of factors described on the right. 
Article
Cultural neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field of research that investigates interrelations among culture, mind and the brain. Drawing on both the growing body of scientific evidence on cultural variation in psychological processes and the recent development of social and cognitive neuroscience, this emerging field of research aspires to understand how culture as an amalgam of values, meanings, conventions, and artifacts that constitute daily social realities might interact with the mind and its underlying brain pathways of each individual member of the culture. In this article, following a brief review of studies that demonstrate the surprising degree to which brain processes are malleably shaped by cultural tools and practices, the authors discuss cultural variation in brain processes involved in self-representations, cognition, emotion and motivation. They then propose (i) that primary values of culture such as independence and interdependence are reflected in the compositions of cultural tasks (i.e. daily routines designed to accomplish the cultural values) and further (ii) that active and sustained engagement in these tasks yields culturally patterned neural activities of the brain, thereby laying the ground for the embodied construction of the self and identity. Implications for research on culture and the brain are discussed. © The Author (2010). Published by Oxford University Press. For Permissions, please email: [email protected] /* */
 
Article
Faces are represented in a more configural or holistic manner than other objects. Substantial evidence indicates that this representation results from face-specific mechanisms, but some have argued that it is produced by configural mechanisms that can be applied to many objects including words. The face-specific hypothesis predicts that non-face configural processes will often be normal in prosopagnosic subjects, whereas the domain-general configural hypothesis predicts they will be deficient on all configural tasks. Although the weight of the evidence favors the face-specific hypothesis, a recent study reopened this issue when it was found that three out of five developmental prosopagnosics showed a larger local processing bias than controls in a global-local task (i.e. a Navon task). To examine this issue more thoroughly we tested a significantly larger sample of prosopagnosics (14 participants) who had severe face memory and face perception deficits. In contrast to the previous report, the developmental prosopagnosics performed normally in the global-local task. Like controls, they showed a typical global advantage and typical global-to-local consistency effects. The results demonstrate that the configural processing required by the Navon task is dissociable from face configural processing.
 
Sensor space statistical parametric maps. Figure 2A shows the statistical parametric map for the interaction between hand and body position in sensor space having averaged first across frequency (7–12 Hz) and then time (2–3 s). The colour-scale depicts the t-value. Figure 2B and C shows the parameter estimates from the peak voxel from the cluster at left parietal sensors (B) and right parietal sensors (C) collapsed across the factor goal for the conditions, right arm facing towards the subject, left arm facing towards the subject, right arm facing away from the subject and left arm facing away from the subject. The error bars show the pooled error term.  
Article
When we observe the actions of others, certain areas of the brain are activated in a similar manner as to when we perform the same actions ourselves. This ‘mirror system’ includes areas in the ventral premotor cortex and the inferior parietal lobule. Experimental studies suggest that action observation automatically elicits activity in the observer, which precisely mirrors the activity observed. In this case we would expect this activity to be independent of observer's viewpoint. Here we use whole-head magnetoencephalography (MEG) to record cortical activity of human subjects whilst they watched a series of videos of an actor making a movement recorded from different viewpoints. We show that one cortical response to action observation (oscillatory activity in the 7–12 Hz frequency range) is modulated by the relationship between the observer and the actor. We suggest that this modulation reflects a mechanism that filters information into the ‘mirror system’, allowing only socially relevant information to pass.
 
Composite (sites CZ, CPZ, and PZ) ERP waveforms to appetitive and neutral pictures split as a function of trait BAS (e.g., low, moderate, and high BAS total). Circles indicate N1 peaks.
Article
Much past research has focused on how traits related to the behavioral inhibition system (BIS) and avoidance motivation influence the almost obligatory attentional processing of aversive stimuli as measured as early as 100 ms into stimulus processing. These results fit with the functional importance assigned to the negativity bias. But do traits related to the behavioral approach system (BAS) influence attentional processing with similar rapidity? The present study addressed this unanswered question by testing whether trait BAS relates to event-related potentials (ERP) involved in rapid motivated attentional processing to appetitive stimuli. Results indicated that individual differences in BAS were correlated with larger ERP amplitudes as early as 100 ms into the processing of appetitive pictures. These results provide the first evidence linking trait approach motivational tendencies to very early stages of motivated attentional processing.
 
Article
In this issue, Terasawa and colleagues used functional neuroimaging to test for common neural substrates supporting conscious appraisal of subjective bodily and emotional states and explored how the relationship might account for personality and experience of anxiety symptoms. Their study highlights a role for the same region of anterior insula cortex in appraisal of emotions and bodily physiology. The reactivity of this region also mediated the relationship between ‘bodily sensibility’ and social fear, translating a cognitive representation of subjective physical state into an individual personality trait that influences social interaction. The task used by Terasawa and colleagues taps into conscious aspects to the expression of this dynamic. These findings add to increasing evidence for the role of anterior insula as the interface between physiologically driven internal motivational states, emotional awareness and interpersonal behaviour.
 
PCC functional connectivity in 22q11DS patients and healthy controls. Top panel (1 a) depicts within-group functional connectivity. Red colors indicate regions of significant functional connectivity to the PCC in patients with 22q11DS, while blue colors indicate regions of significant functional connectivity to the PCC in healthy controls and purple indicates areas of overlap across groups. As seen here, both healthy controls and 22q11DS patients exhibit functional connectivity to areas classically considered part of the DMN, though the strength of the DMN network in 22q11DS patients, especially along long-distance connections, appears less robust. The bottom panel (1 b) depicts significant group differences in PCC connectivity between 22q11DS patients vs controls. As depicted here, controls showed significantly stronger functional connectivity between the PCC and other DMN regions, including the precuneus, the left and right precentral gyrus, the left frontal pole and left lateral occipito-parietal regions. In contrast, 22q11DS patients displayed a more diffuse pattern of functional connectivity with the PCC, involving significantly stronger correlations between the PCC and right inferior frontal gyrus. 
Developmental effects on PCC connectivity. Figure 2a depicts brain regions in which greater functional connectivity with the PCC is associated with increasing age in 22q11DS patients [red—right (R) vmPFC, left (L) frontal cortex] and controls [blue—paracingulate gyrus, anterior cingulate gyrus (ACC), R superior frontal gryus, L putamen, R lateral temporal cortex, R lateral parietal lobe, R cerebellum]. Figure 2b depicts regions in which there is a significant age  diagnosis interaction [i.e. differential PCC connectivity with increasing age for 22q11DS patients (22q11DS) vs controls (Cont)]. Red colors indicate regions in which there is differentially increased connectivity in 22q11DS patients (R vmPFC, Subcallosal cortex, R orbitofrontal cortex), whereas blue colors indicate differentially increased PCC functional connectivity with increasing age in controls (Cont—occipital pole, R lateral temporal cortex). 
Significant Cluster Locations from Group Analyses 
Article
22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (22q11DS) is a genetic mutation associated with disorders of cortical connectivity and social dysfunction. However, little is known about the functional connectivity (FC) of the resting brain in 22q11DS and its relationship with social behavior. A seed-based-analysis of resting-state functional MRI data was used to investigate FC associated with the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), in [26] youth with 22qDS and [51] demographically-matched controls. Subsequently, the relationship between PCC-connectivity and Social Responsiveness Scale (SRS) scores was examined in 22q11DS participants.RESULTS: Relative to 22q11DS participants, controls showed significantly stronger FC between the PCC and other default mode network (DMN) nodes, including the precuneus, precentral gyrus, and left frontal pole. 22q11DS patients did not show age-associated FC changes observed in typically-developing controls. Increased connectivity between PCC, medial prefrontal regions, and the anterior cingulate cortex, was associated with lower SRS scores (i.e., improved social competence) in 22q11DS.CONCLUSIONS: DMN integrity may play a key role in social information-processing. We observed disrupted DMN connectivity in 22q11DS, paralleling reports from idiopathic autism and schizophrenia. Increased strength of long-range DMN connectivity was associated with improved social functioning in 22q11DS. These findings support a "developmental-disconnection" hypothesis of symptom development in this disorder.
 
Example stimuli for each of three trial types. According to the rule for that trial block, participants pressed a button corresponding to one of the numbered lines to identify a particular type of relationship (e.g. for the ‘category’ trial, participants should press ‘1’ to indicate that ‘bowl’ and ‘plate’ share a categorical relationship). Trials were presented in blocks of eight trials from a single condition, and each stimulus contained a centrally presented letter (M for match, C for category, or R for relationship) as reminder of the response rule for that block. 
Comparison of strategy-based (category and relationship) vs control (match) tasks: commonalities and differences across cultural groups
Similarity of semantic processing across cultures and tasks. The top and middle panels illustrate the overlap between East Asians’ activations (displayed in red) and Americans’ activations (displayed in blue) for both category-match and relationship-match contrasts. In addition, note the similarity in the regions engaged by both tasks. Each image is thresholded at p < 0.005 and images are displayed at y 1⁄4 þ 26 (top row) and À 52 (second row). The bottom panel displays the activations across both groups for both strategic judgments [(category þ relationship) À match], with more extensive activation in the left hemisphere than in the right. Images are overlaid on a single-subject canonical anatomical image. 
Cultural differences in category and relational tasks, relative to the control task
Cultural influences on category and relationship judgments. Differences between East Asians and Americans on either the category or relationship task relative to the control match task are depicted for angular gyrus (36, À 70, 56), middle frontal gyrus (40, 60, 10), and cingulate gyrus (12, 10, 46). Note that many of the cultural differences extend to both semantic tasks (category and relationship), although are highlighted for the peak for a single condition in the figure. 
Article
The current study employed functional MRI to investigate the contribution of domain-general (e.g. executive functions) and domain-specific (e.g. semantic knowledge) processes to differences in semantic judgments across cultures. Previous behavioral experiments have identified cross-cultural differences in categorization, with East Asians preferring strategies involving thematic or functional relationships (e.g. cow-grass) and Americans preferring categorical relationships (e.g. cow-chicken). East Asians and American participants underwent functional imaging while alternating between categorical or thematic strategies to sort triads of words, as well as matching words on control trials. Many similarities were observed. However, across both category and relationship trials compared to match (control) trials, East Asians activated a frontal-parietal network implicated in controlled executive processes, whereas Americans engaged regions of the temporal lobes and the cingulate, possibly in response to conflict in the semantic content of information. The results suggest that cultures differ in the strategies employed to resolve conflict between competing semantic judgments. © The Author (2010). Published by Oxford University Press. For Permissions, please email: [email protected] /* */
 
Scatter plots of the unadjusted association between hippocampal volume and BIS ( A ), BAS-RR ( B ), BAS-FS ( C ) and BAS-D ( D ). 
Demographic characteristics and brain measures of the study sample
Correlations between BIS and BAS measures
Article
The fields of personality research and neuropsychology have developed with very little overlap. Gray and McNaughton were among the first to recognize that personality traits must have neurobiological correlates and developed models relating personality factors to brain structures. Of particular note was their description of associations between conditioning, inhibition and activation of behaviours, and specific neural structures such as the hippocampus, amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. The aim of this study was to determine whether personality constructs representing the behavioural inhibition and activation systems (BIS/BAS) were associated with volumetric measures of the hippocampus and amygdala in humans. Amygdalar and hippocampal volumes were measured in 430 brain scans of cognitively intact community-based volunteers. Linear associations between brain volumes and the BIS/BAS measures were assessed using multiple regression, controlling for age, sex, education, intra-cranial and total brain volume. Results showed that hippocampal volumes were positively associated with BIS sensitivity and to a lesser extent with BAS sensitivity. No association was found between amygdalar volume and either the BIS or BAS. These findings add support to the model of Gray and McNaughton, which proposes a role of the hippocampus in the regulation of defensive/approach behaviours and trait anxiety but suggest an absence of associations between amygdala volume and BIS/BAS measures.
 
Levels of autism traits in men with XXY and men from the general population as measured with the AQ. Scores in all individual dimensions were significantly higher in men with XXY.
with significant activation associated with trustworthiness judgments of faces in controls as indicated by a whole-brain analysis
Article
Klinefelter syndrome (KS) is a chromosomal condition (47, XXY) that may help us to unravel gene-brain behavior pathways to psychopathology. The phenotype includes social cognitive impairments and increased risk for autism traits. We used functional MRI to study neural mechanisms underlying social information processing. Eighteen nonclinical controls and thirteen men with XXY were scanned during judgments of faces with regard to trustworthiness and age. While judging faces as untrustworthy in comparison to trustworthy, men with XXY displayed less activation than controls in (i) the amygdala, which plays a key role in screening information for socio-emotional significance, (ii) the insula, which plays a role in subjective emotional experience, as well as (iii) the fusiform gyrus and (iv) the superior temporal sulcus, which are both involved in the perceptual processing of faces and which were also less involved during age judgments in men with XXY. This is the first study showing that KS can be associated with reduced involvement of the neural network subserving social cognition. Studying KS may increase our understanding of the genetic and hormonal basis of neural dysfunctions contributing to abnormalities in social cognition and behavior, which are considered core abnormalities in psychiatric disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.
 
Three-dimensional model of the segmented hippocampus (yellow) and amygdala (blue) using Freesurfer and displayed in Slicer (www.slicer.org). 
Characteristics of the sample
Association between measures of socio-economic position and depression symptoms (PHQ depression score) and cognitive function, report- ing regression b-coefficients and standard errors from a series of regression models controlling for age and sex
volume (in mm 3 and standard error) and regression results (b-coefficient and s.e.) for series of models examining association of hard- ship and childhood poverty with volume of medial-temporal lobe structures, including covariates a
Article
This study examined whether middle-aged adults exposed to poverty in childhood or current financial hardship have detectable brain differences from those who have not experienced such adversity. Structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was conducted as one aspect of the Personality and Total Health (PATH) through life study: a large longitudinal community survey measuring the health and well-being of three cohorts from south-eastern Australia. This analysis considers data from 431 middle-aged adults in the aged 44-48 years at the time of the interview. Volumetric segmentation was performed with the Freesurfer image analysis suite. Data on socio-demographic circumstances, mental health and cognitive performance were collected through the survey interview. Results showed that, after controlling for well-established risk factors for atrophy, adults who reported financial hardship had smaller left and right hippocampal and amygdalar volumes than those who did not report hardship. In contrast, there was no reliable association between hardship and intra-cranial volume or between childhood poverty and any of the volumetric measures. Financial hardship may be considered a potent stressor and the observed results are consistent with the view that hardship influences hippocampal and amygdalar volumes through hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function and other stress-related pathways.
 
HIE provides information on the temporal sequence of activation during perception of emotional faces.
Emotion perception
Isolated motoric expression of emotion
Experience of positive emotional states
Article
Over the past 60 years, human intracranial electrophysiology (HIE) has been used to characterize seizures in patients with epilepsy. Secondary to the clinical objectives, electrodes implanted intracranially have been used to investigate mechanisms of human cognition. In addition to studies of memory and language, HIE methods have been used to investigate emotions. The aim of this review is to outline the contribution of HIE (electrocorticography, single-unit recording, and electrical brain stimulation) to our understanding of the neural representations of emotions. We identified 64 papers dating back to the mid-1950s which used HIE techniques to study emotional states. Evidence from HIE studies supports the existence of widely distributed networks in the neocortex, limbic/paralimbic regions, and subcortical nuclei which contribute to the representation of emotional states. In addition, evidence from HIE supports hemispheric dominance for emotional valence. Furthermore, evidence from HIE supports the existence of overlapping neural areas for emotion perception, experience, and expression. Lastly, HIE provides unique insights into the temporal dynamics of neural activation during perception, experience, and expression of emotional states. In conclusion, we propose that HIE techniques offer important evidence which must be incorporated into our current models of emotion representation in the human brain.
 
Emotion recognition fMRI task design. Subjects were instructed to identify fearful, happy and neutral facial expressions, and isoluminant scrambled images, by pressing a corresponding button. Stimuli were randomly ordered in a fixed sequence, with each condition being presented 30 times over the course of two separate scanning sessions. Stimuli duration was 1950 ms, followed by a blank screen of 50 ms. An additional 80 blank images consisting of a black background with a central fixation cross were pseudo-randomly interspersed throughout the entire task. Blank stimuli were 2000 ms in duration, and no more than three blank screens were presented consecutively, resulting in an effective jittered ISI ranging from 50 to 6050 ms, with an average ISI of 2695 ms.
Demographics and cognitive assessments
Behavioral accuracy and response times. (a) Repeated measures ANOVA of behavioral measures demonstrate a significant interaction effect of group and emotion. Post hoc univariate analysis demonstrated that the TS group was less accurate in identifying fearful faces. (b) There were no significant group × emotion interactions for response times.
Analyses of between-group differences for contrast of happy faces compared with scrambled faces. The TS group demonstrated increased activation in the (a) right anterior fusiform gyrus (P < 0.05 corrected, peak: [57 −10 −27]). Analyses of between-group differences for contrast of fearful faces compared with scrambled faces. The TS group demonstrated decreased activation in the (b) right dorsolateral PFC and (c) right anterior cingulate and bilateral posterior cingulate gyri. Clusters are significant at P < 0.05 corrected for multiple comparisons.
Article
Appraisal of fearful stimuli is an integral aspect of social cognition. Neural circuitry underlying this phenomenon has been well-described, and encompasses a distributed network of affective and cognitive nodes. Interestingly, this ability to process fearful faces is impaired in Turner syndrome (TS), a genetic disorder of females in which all or part of an X chromosome is missing. However, neurofunctional correlates for this impairment have not been well-studied, particularly in young girls. Given that the core features of TS include X chromosome gene haploinsufficiency and secondary sex hormone deficiencies, investigation of fearful face processing may provide insights into the influence of X chromosome gene expression on this network. Therefore, we examined behavioral and neural responses during an explicit emotional face labeling task in 14 prepubertal girls with TS and 16 typically developing age-matched controls (6-13 years). We demonstrate that girls with TS have a specific impairment in the identification of fearful faces, and show decreased activation in several cognitive control regions, including the anterior dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and posterior cingulate gyrus. Our results indicate that aberrant functional activation in dorsal cognitive regions play an integral role in appraisal of, and regulation of response to fear in TS.
 
Average Arousal ratings (3 = highly aroused, 2 = slightly aroused, 1 = not at all aroused) for each emotional condition in individuals with a first-episode of psychosis (FEP), subjects at ultra high risk of psychosis (UHR), and control subjects (HC). * Significant difference between groups at P < 0.05. Error bars represent standard error. 
Results of whole-brain analyses and amygdala region of interest analysis of the main effect of Emotional versus Neutral contrast across the three groups (first-episode psychosis –FEP-, ultra high risk –UHR-, and healthy controls –HC-). Regions are described in Table 2, Panel 2A shows rendered views and 2B shows section views. 
Main activation clusters ( P < 0.05 FWE) and parameter estimates (mean and standard error) for each emotional condition (emotional > neutral; neutral > fixation) and group in the voxel with max. t-value. Mean parameter estimates are shown for voxel [-40 36 2] in the left inferior frontal gyrus/anterior insula, for voxel [18 46 30] in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and voxels [24 -6 -16] and [-22 -6 -12] respectively in the right and left amygdala. Abbreviations as in Figure 1. AMY, amygdala; dmPFC, dorsomedial prefrontal cortex. IFG/aINS, inferior frontal gyrus/anterior insula; L, left; R, right. 
Scatterplots of (A1) average CAARMS positive symptoms and (A2) average GAF levels of functioning as a function of dmPFC activation in Ultra High Risk (UHR) individuals; (B1) average PANSS positive symptoms as a function of right amygdala activation and (B2) as a function of IFG/aINS activation in First-Episode Psychosis (FEP) patients. AMY, amygdala; dmPFC, dorsomedial prefrontal cortex. IFG/aINS, inferior frontal gyrus/anterior insula; L, left; R, right. 
Article
Neurobiological and behavioral findings suggest that psychosis is associated with corticolimbic hyperactivity during the processing of emotional salience. This has not been widely studied in the early stages of psychosis the impact of these abnormalities on psychotic symptoms and global functioning is unknown. We sought to address this issue in 18 patients with first-episode psychosis (FEP), 18 individuals at ultra-high risk of psychosis (UHR), and 22 healthy controls. Corticolimbic response and subjective ratings to emotional and neutral scenes were measured using functional MRI. The clinical and functional impact of corticolimbic abnormalities was assessed with regression analyses. The FEP and UHR groups reported increased subjective emotional arousal to neutral scenes compared with healthy controls. Across groups, emotional versus neutral scenes elicited activation in the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, inferior frontal gyrus/anterior insula, and amygdala. Although FEP and UHR participants showed reduced activation in these regions when viewing emotional scenes compared with controls, this was driven by increased activation to neutral scenes. Corticolimbic hyperactivity to neutral scenes predicted higher levels of positive symptoms and poorer levels of functioning. These results indicate that disruption of emotional brain systems may represent an important biological substrate for the pathophysiology of early psychosis and UHR states. © The Author (2015). Published by Oxford University Press. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.
 
Article
The ability to form anticipatory representations of ongoing actions is crucial for effective interactions in dynamic environments. In sports, elite athletes exhibit greater ability than novices in predicting other players' actions, mainly based on reading their body kinematics. This superior perceptual ability has been associated with a modulation of visual and motor areas by visual and motor expertise. Here, we investigated the causative role of visual and motor action representations in experts' ability to predict the outcome of soccer actions. We asked expert soccer players (outfield players and goalkeepers) and novices to predict the direction of the ball after perceiving the initial phases of penalty kicks that contained or not incongruent body kinematics. During the task we applied repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) over the superior temporal sulcus (STS) and the dorsal premotor cortex (PMd). Results showed that STS-rTMS disrupted performance in both experts and novices, especially in those with greater visual expertise (i.e., goalkeepers). Conversely, PMd-rTMS impaired performance only in expert players (i.e., outfield players and goalkeepers), who exhibit strong motor expertise into facing domain-specific actions in soccer games. These results provide causative evidence of the complimentary functional role of visual and motor action representations in experts' action prediction.
 
Study flow.
Neural changes associated with ABM training. Whole brain, random-effects analyses indicated three-way interactions (Group  Time  Condition) in the right and left amygdala: [right: (16, À 1, À9), 54 voxels (844 mm 3 ), F(4,112) ¼ 4.3, p < 0.05 corrected; left: (À19, 1, À11), 49 voxels (766 mm 3 ), F(4,112) ¼ 5.4, p < 0.05 corrected]. To decompose this three-way interaction, the percent signal-change values, relative to fixation, across significant voxels in each whole-brain cluster were averaged for each condition for each participant. Post-hoc analysis examined the threat bias contrast (i.e. threat incongruent > congruent).  
Parameters from step regression model predicting symptom reduction change using screening measures
Article
Attention bias modification (ABM) procedures typically reduce anxiety symptoms, yet little is known about the neural changes associated with this behavioral treatment. Healthy adults with high social anxiety symptoms (n = 53) were randomized to receive either active or placebo ABM. Unlike placebo ABM, active ABM aimed to train individuals’ attention away from threat. Using the dot-probe task, threat-related attention bias was measured during magnetic resonance imaging before and after acute and extended training over 4 weeks. A subset of participants completed all procedures (n = 30, 15 per group). Group differences in neural activation were identified using standard analyses. Linear regression tested predictive factors of symptom reduction (i.e., training group, baseline indices of threat bias). The active and placebo groups exhibited different patterns of right and left amygdala activation with training. Across all participants irrespective of group, individuals with greater left amygdala activation in the threat-bias contrast prior to training exhibited greater symptom reduction. After accounting for baseline amygdala activation, greater symptom reduction was associated with assignment to the active training group. Greater left amygdala activation at baseline predicted reductions in social anxiety symptoms following ABM. Further research is needed to clarify brain-behavior mechanisms associated with ABM training.
 
Brain activation clusters associated with explicit judgment of emotional expressions in the control group. Clusters are superimposed on a 3D anatomical image. (A) and (C), Lateral view; (B), Mid sagittal view; (D), Transverse view; (E), Coronal view. The clusters are colour-coded based on the Emotion-minus-Age t -statistic values (positive values indicate Emotion greater than Age). For graphical reporting significant activation effects are shown thresholded at an uncorrected threshold of P < 0.001. 
Characteristics of subjects with high functioning autism (HFA) or Asperger syndrome (ASD) ASD Subjects Age Sex Diagnosis Verbal IQ Non-verbal IQ Total IQ Score ASSQ
Path diagrams from the causal analysis using structural equation modelling. Values of the path coefficients in the control/autism groups are indicated. Significant differences in these values between groups are shown in red for Control > ASD and in blue for ASD > Control. 
Coordinates of clusters of activation when comparing control and ASD populations in the contrast 'emotion' vs 'age' judgement conditions
Standardized path coefficients are presented. Levels of significance are Bonferroni corrected
Article
Several recent studies suggest that autism may result from abnormal communication between brain regions. We directly assessed this hypothesis by testing the presence of abnormalities in a model of the functional cerebral network engaged during explicit emotion processing in adults with high functioning autism or Asperger syndrome. Comparison of structural equation models revealed abnormal patterns of effective connectivity, with the prefrontal cortex as a key site of dysfunction. These findings provide evidence that abnormal long-range connectivity between structures of the ‘social brain’ could explain the socio-emotional troubles that characterize the autistic pathology.
 
Article
People with autism are impaired in their social behavior, including their eye contact with others, but the processes that underlie this impairment remain elusive. We combined high-resolution eye tracking with computational modeling in a group of 10 high-functioning individuals with autism to address this issue. The group fixated the location of the mouth in facial expressions more than did matched controls, even when the mouth was not shown, even in faces that were inverted and most noticeably at latencies of 200–400 ms. Comparisons with a computational model of visual saliency argue that the abnormal bias for fixating the mouth in autism is not driven by an exaggerated sensitivity to the bottom-up saliency of the features, but rather by an abnormal top-down strategy for allocating visual attention.
 
Functional activity in control and autism groups for (A) the MENTAL vs MATH contrast ( P < 0.001, uncorrected) and (B) the REST vs MATH contrast ( P < 0.01, uncorrected); and (C ) the regions of overlap between these two contrasts (minimum cluster volume 1⁄4 1152 mm 3 ). These regions of overlap in the control group were used as ROIs for further analysis (red cluster 1⁄4 vMPFC/vACC; blue cluster 1⁄4 RSC/PCC; green cluster 1⁄4 left ANG). The dMPFC ROI (open circle) is also shown. In the autism group, the left ANG just missed the minimum cluster volume threshold (1139 mm 3 ). 
Functional activity in control and autism groups for (A) INTERNAL vs MATH, EXTERNAL vs MATH, and INTERNAL vs EXTERNAL contrasts; and (B) SELF vs MATH, OTHER vs MATH, and SELF vs OTHER contrasts (all P < 0.001, volume-corrected). The same mid-sagittal slice location is shown for each image. Regions with greater activity in the MATH condition relative to the other conditions are not shown. In the bottom panel, red/yellow represents regions with greater activity in the INTERNAL (A) or SELF (B) conditions, while blue represents regions with greater activity in the EXTERNAL (A) or OTHER (B) conditions. 
Bar graphs depicting percent signal change in control and autism groups during INTERNAL and EXTERNAL judgments and SELF and OTHER judgments (each relative to the MATH baseline condition), shown separately for each ROI. For main effects of group collapsed across all person judgment conditions, see Figure 3. Ã P 0.05; ÃÃ P 0.01. 
Article
Recent studies of autism have identified functional abnormalities of the default network during a passive resting state. Since the default network is also typically engaged during social, emotional and introspective processing, dysfunction of this network may underlie some of the difficulties individuals with autism exhibit in these broad domains. In the present experiment, we attempted to further delineate the nature of default network abnormality in autism using experimentally constrained social and introspective tasks. Thirteen autism and 12 control participants were scanned while making true/false judgments for various statements about themselves (SELF condition) or a close other person (OTHER), and pertaining to either psychological personality traits (INTERNAL) or observable characteristics and behaviors (EXTERNAL). In the ventral medial prefrontal cortex/ventral anterior cingulate cortex, activity was reduced in the autism group across all judgment conditions and also during a resting condition, suggestive of task-independent dysfunction of this region. In other default network regions, overall levels of activity were not different between groups. Furthermore, in several of these regions, we found group by condition interactions only for INTERNAL/EXTERNAL judgments, and not SELF/OTHER judgments, suggestive of task-specific dysfunction. Overall, these results provide a more detailed view of default network functionality and abnormality in autism.
 
Group choices on the Blind and Semi-blind taste tests. Error bars represent 95% confidence intervals. ( A) In the Blind test subjects sampled two unmarked cups: one Coke and one Pepsi (20 trials). All groups preferred Pepsi to a similar extent. ( B) In the Semi-blind tests subjects sampled two cups of the same cola. One cup was accurately marked with the cola’s brand logo and the other was unmarked. Subjects completed 20 trials of a Semi-blind Coke test and 20 trials of a Semi-blind Pepsi test. NC and BDC groups made more selections for labeled Coke than for labeled Pepsi; VMPC patients showed the opposite pattern. 
Participant data
Relationship between Blind and Semi-blind choices. X-axis is the number of selections of Coke in the Blind taste test. X ¼ 20 represents maximal blind preference for Coke; X ¼ 0 represents maximal blind preference for Pepsi. Y-axis is the difference between the number of selections of labeled Coke and the number of selections of labeled Pepsi in the Semi-blind tests. Y ¼ 20 represents maximal preference for the Coke brand label; Y ¼ À20 represents maximal preference for the Pepsi brand label. (A) Among comparison participants, there is almost no correlation between Blind and Semi-blind cola preference (r ¼ 0.13). (B) Among VMPC patients, there is a moderate positive correlation between Blind and Semi-blind cola preference (r ¼ 0.47). Taken together, these data corroborate the averaged group data in Figure 1: Blind and Semi-blind preferences were consistent among VMPC patients, but not among comparison subjects.
Article
Human decision-making is remarkably susceptible to commercial advertising, yet the neurobiological basis of this phenomenon remains largely unexplored. With a series of Coke and Pepsi taste tests we show that patients with damage specifically involving ventromedial prefrontal cortex (VMPC), an area important for emotion, did not demonstrate the normal preference bias when exposed to brand information. Both comparison groups (neurologically normal adults and lesion patients with intact VMPC) preferred Pepsi in a blind taste test, but in subsequent taste tests that featured brand information (‘semi-blind’ taste tests), both comparison groups’ preferences were skewed toward Coke, illustrating the so-called ‘Pepsi paradox’. Like comparison groups, the VMPC patients preferred Pepsi in the blind taste test, but unlike comparison groups, the VMPC patients maintained their Pepsi preference in the semi-blind test. The result that VMPC damage abolishes the ‘Pepsi paradox’ suggests that the VMPC is an important part of the neural substrate for translating commercial images into brand preferences.
 
Modulation of early ERP components during reading of emotional and neutral nouns when preceded by personal pronouns (‘Self’) or articles (‘Control’). The EPN showed a main effect of stimulus valence, i.e. the EPN was enhanced for emotional nouns as compared with neutral nouns across conditions (‘Self’ and ‘Control’). For illustration the EPN effects (gray bars) are shown at the occipital electrodes O1 and O2, separately for each condition. Topographic maps of the difference potentials of the EPN, subtracting neutral from unpleasant and neutral from pleasant nouns are shown collapsed across the condition (‘Self’ and ‘Control’). 
Stimulus material characteristics (nouns—normative ratings)
Modulation of late ERP components during reading of emotional and neutral nouns when preceded by personal pronouns (‘Self’’) or articles (‘Control’). Late ERPs in the N400-LPP time windows showed larger effects for unpleasant than pleasant or neutral nouns only in the ‘Self’ condition. Effects are illustrated at central and centro-parietal electrodes, separately for each condition. Topographic maps show the difference potentials in the N400 and the LPP time windows, subtracting pleasant from unpleasant and unpleasant from neutral nouns in the ‘Self’ condition. 
Rating data of pronoun-noun and article-noun pairs (Participants)
Free recall memory performance. Memory for correctly remembered emotional and neutral pronoun – noun and article – noun pairs as obtained from the free recall test after spontaneous processing of pleasant, unpleasant and neutral pronoun – noun and article – noun pairs. 
Article
Self-referential evaluation of emotional stimuli has been shown to modify the way emotional stimuli are processed. This study aimed at a new approach by investigating whether self-reference alters emotion processing in the absence of explicit self-referential appraisal instructions. Event-related potentials were measured while subjects spontaneously viewed a series of emotional and neutral nouns. Nouns were preceded either by personal pronouns ('my') indicating self-reference or a definite article ('the') without self-reference. The early posterior negativity, a brain potential reflecting rapid attention capture by emotional stimuli was enhanced for unpleasant and pleasant nouns relative to neutral nouns irrespective of whether nouns were preceded by personal pronouns or articles. Later brain potentials such as the late positive potential were enhanced for unpleasant nouns only when preceded by personal pronouns. Unpleasant nouns were better remembered than pleasant or neutral nouns when paired with a personal pronoun. Correlation analysis showed that this bias in favor of self-related unpleasant concepts can be explained by participants' depression scores. Our results demonstrate that self-reference acts as a first processing filter for emotional material to receive higher order processing after an initial rapid attention capture by emotional content has been completed. Mood-congruent processing may contribute to this effect.
 
Neural activity associated with concretization and abstraction. Activations are shown at an uncorrected threshold of P < 0.01, to show spatial extent. Legend displays t -values. 
Response time (ms) by task (WH, CE) and mindset (Concrete, Abstract)
Article
Much work in the field of social cognition shows that adopting an abstract (vs concrete) mindset alters the way people construe the world, thereby exerting substantial effects across innumerable aspects of human behavior. In order to investigate the cognitive and neural basis of these effects, we scanned participants as they performed two widely used tasks that induce an abstracting vs concretizing mindsets. Specifically, participants: (i) indicated ‘why’ perform certain activities (a task that involves abstraction) or ‘how’ the same activities are performed (a task that involves concretization) and (ii) generated superordinate categories for certain objects (a task that involves abstraction) or subordinate exemplars for the same objects (a task that involves concretization). We conducted a conjunction analysis of the two tasks, in order to uncover the neural activity associated with abstraction and concretization. The results showed that concretization was associated with activation in fronto-parietal regions implicated in goal-directed action; abstraction was associated with activity within posterior regions implicated in visual perception. We discuss these findings in light of construal-level theory’s notion of abstraction.
 
Graphical depiction of the money (MID task) and food incentive delay task (FID task). Cues representing possible reward outcomes (1 EUR, 20 cents and 0 EUR/10 SPs, 2 SP and 0 SP, respectively) and task structure of the MID/FID. Participants were presented with a cue stipulating the amount of money/SP they could win if they reacted correctly during the following discrimination task. Immediately after target presentation, participants were informed about the amount of money/SP they had won during the trial and their cumulative total win so far. 
Whole-brain results for the anticipation/receipt of primary and secondary rewards
(a) Significant brain activation during the contrast anticipation_high for the FID task. The threshold was set at P < 0.001 uncorrected, with a cluster-defining threshold of five voxels for illustrative purposes. The blue circles denote the localization of the VS ROIs. SPM t-map was rendered on a T1-weighted template image (coronal slice, y coordinate ¼ 4 mm) supplied with mricron (Colin brain). (b) Bar chart depicting percent signal change from the right VS during different anticipation conditions for the FID task. (c) Bar chart depicting percent signal change from the left VS during different anticipation conditions for the FID task. Error bars depict SEM.
Group maximum t-values and MNI coordinates of all activation foci found during the comparison of the MID and FID task
(a) Significant brain activation during the contrast receipt_high for the FID task. The threshold was set at P < 0.001 uncorrected, with a cluster-defining threshold of five voxels for illustrative purposes. The blue circles denote the localization of the OFC ROIs. SPM t-map was rendered on a T1-weighted template image (transversal slice, z-coordinate ¼ À8 mm) supplied with mricron (Colin brain). (b) Bar chart depicting percent signal change from the right lOFC during different SP receipt conditions. (c) Bar chart depicting percent signal change from the left lOFC during different SP receipt conditions. Error bars depict SEM. (d) Correlation between percent signal change extracted at the right lOFC during the contrast receipt_high and BMI. (e) Correlation between percent signal change extracted at the left lOFC during the contrast receipt_high and BMI.
Article
Food is an innate reward stimulus related to energy homeostasis and survival, whereas money is considered a more general reward stimulus that gains a rewarding value through learning experiences. Although the underlying neural processing for both modalities of reward has been investigated independently from one another, a more detailed investigation of neural similarities and/ or differences between food and monetary reward is still missing. Here, we investigated the neural processing of food compared to monetary related rewards in 27 healthy, normal-weight women using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We developed a task distinguishing between the anticipation and the receipt of either abstract food or monetary reward. Both tasks activated the ventral striatum during the expectation of a reward. Compared to money, greater food related activations were observed in prefrontal, parietal and central midline structures during the anticipation and lateral orbitofrontal cortex (lOFC) during the receipt of food reward. Furthermore, during the receipt of food reward, brain activation in the secondary taste cortex was positively related to the BMI. These results indicate that food dependent activations encompass to a greater extent brain regions involved in self-control and self-reflection during the anticipation and phylogenetically older parts of the lOFC during the receipt of reward. © The Author (2014). Published by Oxford University Press. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.
 
Article
Various kinds of normative judgments are an integral part of everyday life. We extended the scrutiny of social cognitive neuroscience into the domain of legal decisions, investigating two groups, lawyers and other academics, during moral and legal decision-making. While we found activation of brain areas comprising the so-called 'moral brain' in both conditions, there was stronger activation in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and middle temporal gyrus particularly when subjects made legal decisions, suggesting that these were made in respect to more explicit rules and demanded more complex semantic processing. Comparing both groups, our data show that behaviorally lawyers conceived themselves as emotionally less involved during normative decision-making in general. A group × condition interaction in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex suggests a modulation of normative decision-making by attention based on subjects' normative expertise.
 
Article
Trait impulsivity is characterized by behavioral disinhibition and rash decision-making that contribute to many maladaptive behaviors. Previous research demonstrates that trait impulsivity is related to the activity of brain regions underlying reward sensitivity and emotion regulation, but little is known about this relationship in the context of immediately available primary reward. This is unfortunate, as impulsivity in these contexts can lead to unhealthy behaviors, including poor food choices, dangerous drug use, and risky sexual practices. In addition, little is known about the relationship between integration of reward and affective neurocircuitry, as measured by resting-state functional connectivity, and trait impulsivity in everyday life, as measured with a commonly used personality inventory. We therefore asked healthy adults to undergo a fMRI task in which they saw cues indicating the imminent oral administration of rewarding taste, as well as a resting-state scan. Trait impulsivity was associated with increased activation during anticipation of primary reward in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and amygdala. Additionally, resting-state functional connectivity between the ACC and the right amygdala was negatively correlated with trait impulsivity. These findings demonstrate that trait impulsivity is related not only to ACC-amygdala activation, but also how tightly coupled these regions are to one another.
 
ERPs at electrode FCz in the ( a ) control and ( b ) meditation conditions on correct and incorrect trials and ( c ) the ERN on incorrect trials for participants in the two conditions. 
Bivariate correlations for main study variables.
The ERN on incorrect trials for participants high and low on mindful acceptance, as determined by a median split. 
The mediating role of emotional acceptance and ERN amplitude in the link between meditation experience and Stroop performance (errors). Unstandardized regression coefficients are presented. The analysis uses average reaction time and age as covariates. ***P < 0.01; **P ≤ 0.055; *P < 0.10.
Article
Previous studies have documented the positive effects of mindfulness meditation on executive control. What has been lacking, however, is an understanding of the mechanism underlying this effect. Some theorists have described mindfulness as embodying two facets—present moment awareness and emotional acceptance. Here, we examine how the effect of meditation practice on executive control manifests in the brain, suggesting that emotional acceptance and performance monitoring play important roles. We investigated the effect of meditation practice on executive control and measured the neural correlates of performance monitoring, specifically, the error-related negativity (ERN), a neurophysiological response that occurs within 100 ms of error commission. Meditators and controls completed a Stroop task, during which we recorded ERN amplitudes with electroencephalography. Meditators showed greater executive control (i.e. fewer errors), a higher ERN and more emotional acceptance than controls. Finally, mediation pathway models further revealed that meditation practice relates to greater executive control and that this effect can be accounted for by heightened emotional acceptance, and to a lesser extent, increased brain-based performance monitoring.
 
Article
We developed an ecologically valid virtual peer interaction paradigm—the Chatroom Interact Task in which 60 pre-adolescents and adolescents (ages 9–17 years) were led to believe that they were interacting with other youth in a simulated internet chatroom. Youth received rejection and acceptance feedback from virtual peers. Findings revealed increased pupil dilation, an index of increased activity in cognitive and affective processing regions of the brain, to rejection compared to acceptance trials, which was greater for older youth. Data from a cell-phone Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) protocol completed following the task indicated that increased pupillary reactivity to rejection trials was associated with lower feelings of social connectedness with peers in daily life. Eyetracking analyses revealed attentional biases toward acceptance feedback and away from rejection feedback. Biases toward acceptance feedback were stronger for older youth. Avoidance of rejection feedback was strongest among youth with increased pupillary reactivity to rejection, even in the seconds leading up to and following rejection feedback. These findings suggest that adolescents are sensitive to rejection feedback and seek to anticipate and avoid attending to rejection stimuli. Furthermore, the salience of social rejection and acceptance feedback appears to increase during adolescence.
 
Average ERP amplitude between 275 and 375 ms after evaluation onset at midline electrodes ( n 1⁄4 17). 
Cardiac response in terms of delta IBI for expected (No – No) and unexpected (Yes – No) rejections and expected (Yes – Yes) and unexpected (No – Yes) acceptance ( n 1⁄4 17). 
Average cardiac deceleration computed by summation of IBI1, IBI2 and IBI3 and subtracting IBI0.
Article
The effect of social rejection on cardiac and brain responses was examined in a study in which participants had to decide on the basis of pictures of virtual peers whether these peers would like them or not. Physiological and behavioral responses to expected and unexpected acceptance and rejection were compared. It was found that participants expected that about 50% of the virtual judges gave them a positive judgment. Cardiac deceleration was strongest for unexpected social rejection. In contrast, the brain response was strongest to expected acceptance and was characterized by a positive deflection peaking around 325 ms following stimulus onset and the observed difference was maximal at fronto-central positions. The cardiac and electro-cortical responses were not related. It is hypothesized that these differential response patterns might be related to earlier described differential involvement of the dorsal and ventral portion of the anterior cingulate cortex.
 
Article
The current research examined the viability of the N400, an event-related potential related to the detection of semantic incongruity, as an index of both stereotype accessibility and interracial prejudice. Participants' EEG was recorded while they completed a sequential priming task, in which negative or positive, stereotypically Black (African-American) or White (Caucasian-American) traits followed the presentation of either a Black or White face acting as a prime. ERP examination focused on the N400, but additionally examined N100 and P200 reactivity. Replicating and extending previous N400 stereotype research, results indicated that the N400 can indeed function as an index of stereotype accessibility in an inter-racial domain, as greater N400 reactivity was elicited by trials in which the face prime was incongruent with the target trait than when primes and traits matched. Furthermore, N400 activity was moderated by participants' self-reported explicit bias. More explicitly biased participants demonstrated greater N400 reactivity to stereotypically White traits following Black faces than Black traits following Black faces. P200 activity was additionally associated with participants' implicit biases, as more implicitly biased participants similarly demonstrated greater P200 reactivity to stereotypically White traits following Black faces than Black traits following Black faces.
 
Trial structure and available incentives. Conditions were distinguished by different cues. During UNC-ONLY blocks, four cues were used; during CERT-UNC blocks, eight different cues were used. Outcome amounts were given both for the current trial and the total earned within the current block.
Percent signal change in NAcc. Points represent mean percent signal change from the experiment mean in bilateral NAcc at 4 s following cue onset. Error bars represent standard errors within participants. Only uncertain trials are shown, and only between-set differences for the same incentive are indicated. See Table 3 for data and all pairwise comparisons. *** P < 0.001. 
Peak NAcc activation by condition
Article
A reward or punishment can seem better or worse depending on what else might have happened. Little is known, however, about how neural representations of an anticipated incentive might be influenced by the available alternatives. We used event-related FMRI to investigate the activation in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), while we varied the available alternative incentives in a monetary incentive delay task. Some task blocks included only uncertain gains and losses; others included the same uncertain gains and losses intermixed with certain gains and losses. The availability of certain gains and losses increased NAcc activation for uncertain losses and decreased the difference between uncertain gains and losses. We suggest that this pattern of activation can result from reference point changes across blocks, and that the worst available loss may serve as an important anchor for NAcc activation. These findings imply that NAcc activation represents anticipated incentive value relative to the current context of available alternative gains and losses.
 
Hit rates separated by age groups and reward types (total number of possible hits per category 1⁄4 22). 
Brain areas showing increasing activation with increasing anticipated reward level, independent of reward type and age group ( y 1⁄4 8; x 1⁄4 6; P < 0.05, FWE, displayed on the averaged anatomical image of the sample). 
Interaction effect of reward type and age group in the right NAcc (ROI analysis, y 1⁄4 5, P < 0.05, FWE, displayed on the averaged anatomical image of the sample). 
Main effect of reward level (P < 0.05, FWE)
Article
Recent studies have reported inconsistent results regarding the loss of reward sensitivity in the aging brain. Although such an age effect might be due to a decline of physiological processes, it may also be a consequence of age-related changes in motivational preference for different rewards. Here, we examined whether the age effects on neural correlates of reward anticipation are modulated by the type of expected reward. Functional magnetic resonance images were acquired in 24 older (60–78 years) and 24 young participants (20–28 years) while they performed an incentive delay task offering monetary or social rewards. Anticipation of either reward type recruited brain structures associated with reward, including the nucleus accumbens (NAcc). Region of interest analysis revealed an interaction effect of reward type and age group in the right NAcc: enhanced activation to cues of social reward was detected in the older subsample while enhanced activation to cues of monetary reward was detected in the younger subsample. Our results suggest that neural sensitivity to reward-predicting cues does not generally decrease with age. Rather, neural responses in the NAcc appear to be modulated by the type of reward, presumably reflecting age-related changes in motivational value attributed to different types of reward.
 
Article
The ability to accurately infer others' mental states from facial expressions is important for optimal social functioning and is fundamentally impaired in social cognitive disorders such as autism. While pharmacologic interventions have shown promise for enhancing empathic accuracy, little is known about the effects of behavioral interventions on empathic accuracy and related brain activity. This study employed a randomized, controlled and longitudinal design to investigate the effect of a secularized analytical compassion meditation program, cognitive-based compassion training (CBCT), on empathic accuracy. Twenty-one healthy participants received functional MRI scans while completing an empathic accuracy task, the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET), both prior to and after completion of either CBCT or a health discussion control group. Upon completion of the study interventions, participants randomized to CBCT and were significantly more likely than control subjects to have increased scores on the RMET and increased neural activity in the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (dmPFC). Moreover, changes in dmPFC and IFG activity from baseline to the post-intervention assessment were associated with changes in empathic accuracy. These findings suggest that CBCT may hold promise as a behavioral intervention for enhancing empathic accuracy and the neurobiology supporting it.
 
Article
Previous work indicates that intranasal inhalation of oxytocin improves face recognition skills, raising the possibility that it may be used in security settings. However, it is unclear whether oxytocin directly acts upon the core face-processing system itself, or indirectly improves face recognition via affective or social salience mechanisms. In a double-blind procedure, 60 participants received either an oxytocin or placebo nasal spray before completing the One-in-Ten task - a standardized test of unfamiliar face recognition containing target-present and target-absent line-ups. Participants in the oxytocin condition outperformed those in the placebo condition on target-present trials, yet were more likely to make false-positive errors on target-absent trials. Signal detection analyses indicated that oxytocin induced a more liberal response bias, rather than increasing accuracy per se. These findings support a social salience account of the effects of oxytocin on face recognition, and indicate that oxytocin may impede face recognition in certain scenarios. © The Author (2014). Published by Oxford University Press. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.
 
Repeated measures ANOVA revealed a significant treatment effect and significant treatment by condition by gender effect. Follow-up t-tests revealed a significant treatment effect only for kinship relationships in women and only for competitive relationships in men.
Article
Despite the dominant role of the hormone oxytocin (OT) in social behavior, little is known about the role of OT in the perception of social relationships. Furthermore, it is unclear whether there are sex differences in the way that OT affects social perception. Here, we employed a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover design to investigate the effect of OT on accurate social perception. Following treatment, 62 participants completed the Interpersonal Perception Task, a method of assessing the accuracy of social judgments that requires identification of the relationship between people interacting in real life video clips divided into three categories: kinship, intimacy and competition. The findings suggest that OT had a general effect on improving accurate perception of social interactions. Furthermore, we show that OT also involves sex-specific characteristics. An interaction between treatment, task category and sex indicated that OT had a selective effect on improving kinship recognition in women, but not in men, whereas men's performance was improved following OT only for competition recognition. It is concluded that the gender-specific findings reported here may point to some biosocial differences in the effect of OT which may be expressed in women's tendency for communal and familial social behavior as opposed to men's tendency for competitive social behavior.
 
Article
The present study investigated whether emotionally expressive faces guide attention and modulate fMRI activity in fusiform gyrus in acquired prosopagnosia. Patient PS, a pure case of acquired prosopagnosia with intact right middle fusiform gyrus, performed two behavioral experiments and a functional imaging experiment to address these questions. In a visual search task involving face stimuli, PS was faster to select the target face when it was expressing fear or happiness as compared to when it was emotionally neutral. In a change detection task, PS detected significantly more changes when the changed face was fearful as compared to when it was neutral. Finally, an fMRI experiment showed enhanced activation to emotionally expressive faces and bodies in right fusiform gyrus. In addition, PS showed normal body-selective activation in right fusiform gyrus, partially overlapping the fusiform face area. Together these behavioral and neuroimaging results show that attention was preferentially allocated to emotional faces in patient PS, as observed in healthy subjects. We conclude that systems involved in the emotional guidance of attention by facial expression can function normally in acquired prosopagnosia, and can thus be dissociated from systems involved in face identification.
 
(A) Experimental design. After differential fear conditioning with a partial reinforcement schedule, participants either received 30 mg hydrocortisone or placebo, fear extinction was conducted 45 min later. Over the course of the experiment, four saliva samples were obtained to verify the effectiveness of the experimental treatment. Mean differential (CSþ minus CSÀ) SCRs are separately shown for the first interval response (B) and the second interval response (C) in early and late fear acquisition and extinction, respectively. Error bars indicate standard errors of the mean. **P < 0.01, *P < 0.05, ( * ) P < 0.10. 
Neuronal activation during early vs late extinction for the contrast CSþ minus CSÀ. Data are masked with the respective ROI and illustrated with F ! 5.0 (see colour bar for exact F-values). The depicted slices were selected according to the reported activations in the right amygdala (y ¼ À1), the medial frontal cortex (x ¼ À3), as well as in the left (y ¼ 14) and right nucleus accumbens (y ¼ 8). Additionally, mean contrast estimates as well as the respective standard errors in the respective peak voxels are displayed in the bar graphs separately for the cortisol and the placebo group. Cortisol application reduced differential neuronal activation in fear extinction-related structures during late extinction. L ¼ left, R ¼ right. 
Article
Exposure therapy builds on the mechanism of fear extinction leading to decreased fear responses. How the stress hormone cortisol affects brain regions involved in fear extinction in humans is unknown. For this reason, we tested 32 men randomly assigned to receive either 30 mg hydrocortisone or placebo 45 min before fear extinction. In fear acquisition, a picture of a geometrical figure was either partially paired (conditioned stimulus; CS+) or not paired (CS−) with an electrical stimulation (unconditioned stimulus; UCS). In fear extinction, each CS was presented again, but no UCS occurred. Cortisol increased conditioned skin conductance responses in early and late extinction. In early extinction, higher activation towards the CS− than to the CS+ was found in the amygdala, hippocampus and posterior parahippocampal gyrus. This pattern might be associated with the establishment of a new memory trace. In late extinction, the placebo compared with the cortisol group displayed enhanced CS+/CS− differentiation in the amygdala, medial frontal cortex and nucleus accumbens. A change from early deactivation to late activation of the extinction circuit as seen in the placebo group seems to be needed to enhance extinction and to reduce fear. Cortisol appears to interfere with this process thereby impairing extinction of recently acquired conditioned fear.
 
Contrast of activation of targets for whom participants chose to vote over targets for whom participants chose not to vote in the left and right amygdala. Panel A shows activations in individual participants, representative of both cultural groups (displayed in neurological convention). Panel B shows mean extracted beta values from participant-specific ROIs of the left and right amgydala; error bars represent the standard errors of the means. 
Mean beta values showing the participant culture by target culture interaction, plotted separately for the left and right amygdalae. Participants showed a greater response to opposite-culture, outgroup targets. 
Article
Voting to determine one's leaders is among the most important decisions we make, yet little is known about the brain's role in how we come to these decisions. Behavioral studies have indicated that snap judgments of political candidates' faces can predict election outcomes but that the traits that lead to these judgments differ across cultures. Here we sought to investigate the neural basis for these judgments. American and Japanese natives performed simulated voting judgments of actual American and Japanese political candidates while neural activity was measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Candidates for whom participants chose to vote elicited stronger responses in the bilateral amygdala than candidates for whom participants chose not to vote. This was true regardless of either the participant's culture or the target's culture, suggesting that these voting decisions provoked the same neural response cross-culturally. In addition, we observed a participant culture by target culture interaction in the bilateral amygdala. American and Japanese participants both showed a stronger response to cultural outgroup faces than they did to cultural ingroup faces, however this was unrelated to their voting decisions. These data provide insight to the mechanisms that underlie our snap judgments of others when making voting decisions and provide a neural correlate to cross-cultural consensus in social inferences. © The Author (2009). Published by Oxford University Press. For Permissions, please email: [email protected] /* */
 
Means (S.E.’s) for needs satisfaction index by age group in Study 1. 
Means (S.E.’s) for negative affectivity index by age group in Study 1. 
Article
Ostracism is ubiquitous across the lifespan. From social exclusion on the playground, to romantic rejection, to workplace expulsion, to social disregard for the aged, ostracism threatens a fundamental human need to belong that reflexively elicits social pain and sadness. Older adults may be particularly vulnerable to ostracism because of loss of network members and meaningful societal roles. On the other hand, socioemotional selectivity theory suggests that older adults may be less impacted by ostracism because of an age-related positivity bias. We examined these hypotheses in two independent studies, and tested mechanisms that may account for age differences in the affective experience of ostracism. A study of 18- to 86-year-old participants in the Time-Sharing Experiments for the Social Sciences program showed an age-related decrease in the impact of ostracism on needs satisfaction and negative affectivity. A study of 53- to 71-year-old participants in the Chicago Health, Aging, and Social Relations Study (CHASRS) showed that ostracism diminished positive affectivity in younger (<60 years) but not older adults. Age group differences in response to ostracism were consistent with the positivity bias hypothesis, were partly explained by age differences in the impact of physical pain, but were not explained by autonomic nervous system activity, computer experience, or intimate social loss or stressful life experiences.
 
Brain activity associated with reflecting on self and other in the present and past. ( a ) The ventral MPFC, dorsal MPFC and PCC were commonly activated by the four reflective tasks (present self, past self, present other and past other) relative to the control task, as revealed by a conjunction analysis. ( b ) Nevertheless, activity in the ventral MPFC, dorsal MPFC and PCC varied across reflective conditions, as revealed by a whole-brain voxel-wise ANOVA. Displayed at P < 0.001 (uncorrected) on the mean structural MRI of all participants. 
Activity in the ventral MPFC, dorsal MPFC and PCC. Functional ROIs were defined using 6 mm radius spheres around the local maxima of ( a ) ventral MPFC (MNI coordinates of peak voxel: À 6, 54, À 2), ( b ) dorsal MPFC (MNI coordinates of peak voxel: À 2, 56, 26) and ( c ) PCC (MNI coordinates of peak voxel: À 2, À 58, 26) activation clusters yielded by the whole-brain voxel-wise ANOVA. Effect sizes correspond to average parameter estimates for each reflective condition (present self, past self, present other, past other) relative to the control condition (valence judgments). Error bars represent the standard error of the mean. 
Activity in brain regions that showed a significant interaction between target and time. Functional ROIs were defined using 6 mm radius spheres around the local maxima of ( a ) dorsal MPFC (MNI coordinates of peak voxel: 4, 46, 44), ( b ) dorsal MPFC (MNI coordinates of peak voxel: 6, 62, 16), ( c ) PCC (MNI coordinates of peak voxel: 2, À 58, 24) and ( d ) left inferior frontal gyrus (MNI coordinates of peak voxel: À 34, 26, 2). Effect sizes correspond to average parameter estimates for each reflective condition (present self, past self, present other, past other) relative to baseline. Error bars represent the standard error of the mean. 
Article
The processing of personal changes across time and the ability to differentiate between representations of present and past selves are crucial for developing a mature sense of identity. In this study, we explored the neural correlates of self-reflection across time using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). College undergraduates were asked to reflect on their own psychological characteristics and those of an intimate other, for both the present time period (i.e. at college) and a past time period (i.e. high school years) that involved significant personal changes. Cortical midline structures (CMS) were commonly recruited by the four reflective tasks (reflecting on the present self, past self, present other and past other), relative to a control condition (making valence judgments). More importantly, however, the degree of activity in CMS also varied significantly according to the target of reflection, with the ventral and dorsal medial prefrontal cortex and the posterior cingulate cortex being more recruited when reflecting on the present self than when reflecting on the past self or when reflecting on the other person. These findings suggest that CMS may contribute to differentiate between representations of present and past selves.
 
Significant activations associated with the main contrasts of interest 
Article
Intrinsic emotional expressions such as those communicated by faces and vocalizations have been shown to engage specific brain regions, such as the amygdala. Although music constitutes another powerful means to express emotions, the neural substrates involved in its processing remain poorly understood. In particular, it is unknown whether brain regions typically associated with processing "biologically-relevant" emotional expressions are also recruited by emotional music. To address this question, we conducted an event-related fMRI study in 47 healthy volunteers in which we directly compared responses to basic emotions (fear, sadness and happiness, as well as neutral) expressed through faces, nonlinguistic vocalizations and short, novel musical excerpts. Our results confirmed the importance of fear in emotional communication, as revealed by significant BOLD signal increased in a cluster within the posterior amygdala and anterior hippocampus, as well as in the posterior insula across all three domains. Moreover, subject-specific amygdala responses to fearful music and vocalizations were correlated, consistent with the proposal that the brain circuitry involved in the processing of musical emotions might be shared with the one that have evolved for vocalizations. Overall, our results show that processing of fear expressed through music, engages some of the same brain areas known to be crucial for detecting and evaluating threat-related information.
 
Article
There is evidence that the right hemisphere is involved in processing self-related stimuli. Previous brain imaging research has found a network of right-lateralized brain regions that preferentially respond to seeing one's own face rather than a familiar other. Given that the self is an abstract multimodal concept, we tested whether these brain regions would also discriminate the sound of one's own voice compared to a friend's voice. Participants were shown photographs of their own face and friend's face, and also listened to recordings of their own voice and a friend's voice during fMRI scanning. Consistent with previous studies, seeing one's own face activated regions in the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), inferior parietal lobe and inferior occipital cortex in the right hemisphere. In addition, listening to one's voice also showed increased activity in the right IFG. These data suggest that the right IFG is concerned with processing self-related stimuli across multiple sensory modalities and that it may contribute to an abstract self-representation.
 
Significant whole-group SGC functional connectivity maps (SGC shown in white). Results are displayed on the cortical surface of the Population Average Landmark and Surface-Based Atlas (Van Essen, 2005), and thresholded at P < 0.01 uncorrected.
Significant negative correlations between CES-D scores and SGC connectivity at Time 1 (top) and Time 2 (bottom). Orthogonal slice planes are: x ¼ 8, y ¼ À61, z ¼ 26 (top); x ¼ 7, y ¼ 50, z ¼ À10 (bottom).
Significant increase in SGC connectivity with the VMPFC between Time 1 to Time 2. Orthogonal slice planes are x ¼ À9, y ¼ 24, z ¼ À15.
Participant characterization: demographics and clinical rating scales
Article
Changes in the functional connectivity of the subgenual anterior cingulate cortex (SGC) have been linked with depressive symptoms. The aim of this study was to map this relationship across mid- to late adolescence. Employing a longitudinal functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) design, associations between patterns of resting-state SGC functional connectivity and symptoms of depression were examined at two time points in an initial sample of seventy-two adolescents. Using a region-of-interest approach, these associations were evaluated cross-sectionally and longitudinally. Cross-sectionally, weaker SGC functional connectivity with the posterior cingulate (PCC), angular gyrus and dorsal prefrontal cortex at baseline, and weaker SGC connectivity with the dorsomedial prefrontal (DMPFC) and ventromedial prefrontal cortices at follow-up, were associated with higher depressive symptoms. Longitudinally, a decrease in SGC functional connectivity with DMPFC, PCC, angular gyrus and middle temporal gyrus was associated with higher depressive symptoms at follow-up. The observation of weaker SGC connectivity predicting increased symptoms contrasts with the majority of resting-state fMRI studies in clinically depressed populations. Taken together with these past studies, our findings suggest depression-related changes in SGC functional connectivity may differ across developmental and illness stages. © The Author (2014). Published by Oxford University Press. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.
 
Study 1 BIAS task design. The investment task used in Study 1 for functional neuroimaging. For brain imaging analyses, the rational actor’s expected value estimate was modeled during the anticipatory period prior to choice at the beginning of the trial. A response deadline for choice was set at 4 s.
Whole brain individual difference analysis
Study 2 modified BIAS task design. All four conditions of the modified investment task used in Study 2. (A) Baseline task, (B) dual-task condition, (C) discrete value condition and (D) integrated value condition. Although not depicted here, the asset icons (triangle, circle and square) were labeled with the words ‘stock’ or ‘bond’.
Expected value signals in mesolimbic regions correlate with task performance. An individual difference analysis revealed that more accurate representation of the actor’s estimate of expected value in mesolimbic regions, the MPFC (A) and NAcc (B), at anticipation was positively correlated with rational choices in the investment task.
Improving financial risk taking. (A) Older adults made fewer rational choices at baseline. (B) The addition of a secondary task did not disrupt performance relative to baseline (orange) for either younger (lighter bars) or older (darker bars) adults. However, the addition of discrete value information (blue) or integrated value information (purple) increased rational choices from baseline for both younger (lighter bars) and older adults (darker bars). For both age groups, the integrated value condition (iii) produced greater improvements than the discrete value condition (ii), which produced greater improvements than the dual-task condition (i). (C) Although older adults at baseline (dark grey O) and in the dual-task condition (orange O) made fewer rational choices than younger adults at baseline (light grey Y), older adults did not differ significantly in either the discrete value (blue O) or integrated value (purple O) conditions from young adults at baseline. Thus, presentation of information related to expected value matched the performance of older adults to that of younger adults at baseline. *P < 0.05; n.s.: not statistically significant.
Article
When making decisions, individuals must often compensate for cognitive limitations, particularly in the face of advanced age. Recent findings suggest that age-related variability in striatal activity may increase financial risk-taking mistakes in older adults. In two studies, we sought to further characterize neural contributions to optimal financial risk taking and to determine whether decision aids could improve financial risk taking. In Study 1, neuroimaging analyses revealed that individuals whose mesolimbic activation correlated with the expected value estimates of a rational actor made more optimal financial decisions. In Study 2, presentation of expected value information improved decision making in both younger and older adults, but the addition of a distracting secondary task had little impact on decision quality. Remarkably, provision of expected value information improved the performance of older adults to match that of younger adults at baseline. These findings are consistent with the notion that mesolimbic circuits play a critical role in optimal choice, and imply that providing simplified information about expected value may improve financial risk taking across the adult life span.
 
A regression analysis for the 'Excluders equality > Includers equality' contrast with punishment frequency as a regressor resulted in activation in: left and right TPJ (peaks À51, À48, 36 and 45, À54, 36), dorsal and ventrolateral regions of the PFC (peaks À30, 51, 0 and 33, 54, 9), pre-SMA/ACC (peaks À6, 18, 51 and 9, 36, 36) and bilateral insula (peaks À30, 21, À6 and 33, 18, À12). 
Article
This functional magnetic resonance imaging study examined the neural correlates of punishment and forgiveness of initiators of social exclusion (i.e. ‘excluders’). Participants divided money in a modified Dictator Game between themselves and people who previously either included or excluded them during a virtual ball-tossing game (Cyberball). Participants selectively punished the excluders by decreasing their outcomes; even when this required participants to give up monetary rewards. Punishment of excluders was associated with increased activation in the pre-supplementary motor area (pre-SMA) and bilateral anterior insula. Costly punishment was accompanied by higher activity in the pre-SMA compared with punishment that resulted in gains or was non-costly. Refraining from punishment (i.e. forgiveness) was associated with self-reported perspective-taking and increased activation in the bilateral temporoparietal junction, dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, and ventrolateral and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. These findings show that social exclusion can result in punishment as well as forgiveness of excluders and that separable neural networks implicated in social cognition and cognitive control are recruited when people choose either to punish or to forgive those who excluded them.
 
(A). Schematic illustration of the experimental paradigm. Participants performed the melody part (the highest in pitch) with the right hand in synchrony with audible left-hand bassline part (which was not performed). dTMS (or sham) was delivered over right primary motor cortex (M1) prior to the tempo changes in the bassline part. Participants were asked to adapt to the new tempo as quickly and accurately as possible. The brace signs indicate the analysed inter-keystroke intervals. The tempo changed at the interval marked with the grey brace sign (this interval provided pre-adaptation indices) and continued regularly from that point onwards. The black brace sign indicates the first predictable interval in the bassline part (which provided the tempo adaptation indices). (B) Illustration of the 2 Â 2 factorial design. Participants either had (Trained) or had not (Untrained) practiced the bassline part (with their left hand) before the experimental session.  
Average tempo adaptation indices for the first keystroke inter-onset interval following tempo changes in Training (Trained vs Untrained) and TMS (dTMS vs Sham) conditions (collapsed across tempo change directions and magnitudes). The dashed horizontal line indicates 1 (perfect adaptation ), while values above or below 1 indicate that performance tempo was too slow or too fast, respectively. Error bars represent 1 s.e.m. *P < 0.05, ns P > 0.05.  
Scatter plot displaying the positive correlation between the adaptation indices from the Trained-TMS condition (quantifying the TMS-interference on motor simulation) and the perspectivetaking (empathy) scores of the participants.  
Article
Joint actions require the integration of simultaneous self- and other-related behaviour. Here we investigated whether this function is underpinned by motor simulation, i.e. the capacity to represent a perceived action in terms of the neural resources required to execute it. This was tested in a music performance experiment wherein on-line brain stimulation (double-pulse Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, dTMS) was employed to interfere with motor simulation. Pianists played the right-hand part of piano pieces in synchrony with a recording of the left-hand part, which had (Trained) or had not (Untrained) been practiced beforehand. Training was assumed to enhance motor simulation. The task required adaptation to tempo changes in the left-hand part that, in critical conditions, were preceded by dTMS delivered over the right primary motor cortex. Accuracy of tempo adaptation following dTMS or sham stimulations was compared across Trained and Untrained conditions. Results indicate that dTMS impaired tempo adaptation accuracy only during the perception of trained actions. The magnitude of this interference was greater in empathic individuals possessing a strong tendency to adopt others' perspectives. These findings suggest that motor simulation provides a functional resource for the temporal coordination of one's own behaviour with others in dynamic social contexts.
 
Social ( A ) and nonsocial stimuli ( B ) used in the study. ( C ) Exemplary depiction of event structure. ISI: inter-stimulus interval. 
Mean reaction times ( A ) and percentages of correct responses ( B ) across all experimental conditions. Error bars depict standard deviation. 
Neural correlates (A–C: main effects; D: statistical interaction; all shown at P 
Neural correlates ( A – C : main effects; D : statistical interaction; all shown at P < 0.05 cluster-level corr. for multiple comparisons. IPL: inferior parietal lobule, SPL: superior parietal lobule; PMC: premotor cortex, MCC: middle cingulate cortex, LC: locus coeruleus, V5: middle occipital gyrus, ITC: inferotemporal cortex, AMY: amygdala, VMPFC: ventral medial prefrontal cortex, ACC: anterior cingulate cortex, DMPFC: dorsal medial prefrontal cortex, THA: thalamus, DS: dorsal striatum). 
Neural correlate of reaction time difference for incongruent as compared to congruent responses to social stimuli (VS: ventral striatum). Data plot shown for illustrative purposes only. 
Article
Previous evidence suggests that ‘social gaze’ can not only cause shifts in attention, but also can change the perception of objects located in the direction of gaze and how these objects will be manipulated by an observer. These findings implicate differences in the neural networks sub-serving action control driven by social cues as compared with nonsocial cues. Here, we sought to explore this hypothesis by using functional magnetic resonance imaging and a stimulus–response compatibility paradigm in which participants were asked to generate spatially congruent or incongruent motor responses to both social and nonsocial stimuli. Data analysis revealed recruitment of a dorsal frontoparietal network and the locus coeruleus for the generation of incongruent motor responses, areas previously implicated in controlling attention. As a correlate for the effect of ‘social gaze’ on action control, an interaction effect was observed for incongruent responses to social stimuli in sub-cortical structures, anterior cingulate and inferior frontal cortex. Our results, therefore, suggest that performing actions in a—albeit minimal—social context significantly changes the neural underpinnings of action control and recruits brain regions previously implicated in action monitoring, the reorienting of attention and social cognition.
 
Article
The discovery of the mirror neuron system (MNS) has led researchers to speculate that this system evolved from an embodied visual recognition apparatus in monkey to a system critical for social skills in humans. It is accepted that the MNS is specialized for processing animate stimuli, although the degree to which social interaction modulates the firing of mirror neurons has not been investigated. In the current study, EEG mu wave suppression was used as an index of MNS activity. Data were collected while subjects viewed four videos: (1) Visual White Noise: baseline, (2) Non-interacting: three individuals tossed a ball up in the air to themselves, (3) Social Action, Spectator: three individuals tossed a ball to each other and (4) Social Action, Interactive: similar to video 3 except occasionally the ball would be thrown off the screen toward the viewer. The mu wave was modulated by the degree of social interaction, with the Non-interacting condition showing the least suppression, followed by the Social Action, Spectator condition and the Social Action, Interactive condition showing the most suppression. These data suggest that the human MNS is specialized not only for processing animate stimuli, but specifically stimuli with social relevance.
 
Article
Adolescence places high demands on inter-personal interactions and, hence, on the extraction and processing of social cues. Here we assess longitudinally the development of brain activity within a network implicated in social cognition—the action observation network. We performed activation likelihood estimation meta-analyses to define regions of interest based upon the mature action observation network of adults. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we then examined developmental trajectories of functional brain activity within these brain regions. Using this approach, we reveal quadratic trajectories within a fronto-parietal network previously shown to demonstrate correlated morphological development.
 
Top-cited authors
Matthew Lieberman
  • University of California, Los Angeles
Adam Anderson
  • Cornell University
Norman Farb
  • University of Toronto
William A Cunningham
  • University of Toronto
Helen Mayberg
  • Emory University