Perceiving Social Interactions in the Social Brain
Dr Kami Koldewyn
2D1, Priory Road Complex, 12a Priory RD
Humans are inherently social and our understanding of the world is shaped from the very beginning by the social interactions we observe and engage in. As a consequence, we excel at extracting information from social scenes. Social interactions are multifaceted and subtle, yet we can almost instantaneously discern if two people are cooperating or competing, or flirting or fighting. We swiftly learn a great deal about people from observing their interactions with others – even a brief interaction gives us important clues about their personality, their social abilities and their current mood. Here, we explore the brain basis of this remarkable ability, in particular looking at the role of various structures in the “social brain”. In a series of experiments, using fMRI, we show that a region in the superior temporal sulcus, identifiable in the majority of subjects individually with a short functional localizer scan, responds about twice as strongly when viewing pairs of people interacting with each other compared to pairs of people acting independently. This heightened response to seeing social interactions is unlikely to be accounted for in terms of simple perceptual features because the same region responds more to interactions than independent actions whether the agents are people depicted in video clips, people in point-light displays, or simple animated shapes. This region also shows sensitivity to the content and/or valence of the observed social scene. The response of this region will be explored in particular, but will be also be discussed in the context of response in other parts of the social brain.
**Please note, this event is free to attend with no registration required**