In this competing renewal, we propose a coordinated series of multimodal experiments to study the properties of a putative model brain network that rapidly detects animate agents on the basis of their body form and/or motion, and infers the agent's goals and intentions from an analysis of its motion and its identity. These competencies are essential for successful social processing. As dysfunction of social processing is a core deficit in neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders as diverse as autism spectrum disorders, William's syndrome, social anxiety disorder, and schizophrenia, we believe that elucidating the properties of this network may lead to a deeper understanding of these disorders and advance strategies for treatment. We will use a multi-modal approach consisting of functional MRI, EEG/ERP, and direct cortical stimulation to best characterize the location, timing, and covariation of neural activity in widespread brain regions presumed to comprise this network. Advanced directed connectivity and decoding analyses will be used to analyze the flow of information among the network nodes. These studies will benefit from our opportunity to stimulate and record directly from subdural electrodes the human brain in patients in the Yale Epilepsy Surgery Program. This proposal comprises four specific aims. In the first aim, we will investigate the timing and directed connectivity upon VOTC processing of faces and body forms. In the second aim, we will investigate the timing and directed connectivity upon LOTC processing of animacy detection and intention attribution. In the third aim, we will investigate changes in directed connectivity between the pSTS and FG as a consequence of the form and motion presented by an animate agent. In the fourth aim, we will investigate the access of semantic information regarding animate agents in the VATL.

Public Health Relevance

Debilitating deficits in social processing is a core symptom of many psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders as diverse as schizophrenia, Williams syndrome, social anxiety disorders, and autistic spectrum disorders. Rapid progress has been made in identifying brain regions sensitive to socially relevant cue such as emotional face expressions, gaze shifts, biological motion, and to important social competences such as the inference of another's goals and intentions. Thus, our focus in this competing renewal is on investigating the connections between components of a brain network that associates people's identities and intentions in the service of predicting future behavior - the essence of social processing. Understanding the nature of information transactions among the nodes of this putative network should deepen our insights into the aforementioned clinical disorders and eventually lead to better treatments.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Research Project (R01)
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Cognitive Neuroscience Study Section (COG)
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Simmons, Janine M
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Yale University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
New Haven
United States
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Shultz, Sarah; McCarthy, Gregory (2014) Perceived animacy influences the processing of human-like surface features in the fusiform gyrus. Neuropsychologia 60:115-20
Lee, Su Mei; Gao, Tao; McCarthy, Gregory (2014) Attributing intentions to random motion engages the posterior superior temporal sulcus. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 9:81-7
Engell, Andrew D; McCarthy, Gregory (2014) Repetition suppression of face-selective evoked and induced EEG recorded from human cortex. Hum Brain Mapp 35:4155-62
Engell, Andrew D; McCarthy, Gregory (2013) Probabilistic atlases for face and biological motion perception: an analysis of their reliability and overlap. Neuroimage 74:140-51
Shultz, Sarah; McCarthy, Gregory (2012) Goal-directed actions activate the face-sensitive posterior superior temporal sulcus and fusiform gyrus in the absence of human-like perceptual cues. Cereb Cortex 22:1098-106
Engell, Andrew D; Huettel, Scott; McCarthy, Gregory (2012) The fMRI BOLD signal tracks electrophysiological spectral perturbations, not event-related potentials. Neuroimage 59:2600-6
He, Yi; Johnson, Marcia K; Dovidio, John F et al. (2009) The relation between race-related implicit associations and scalp-recorded neural activity evoked by faces from different races. Soc Neurosci 4:426-42
Diaz, Michele T; McCarthy, Gregory (2009) A comparison of brain activity evoked by single content and function words: an fMRI investigation of implicit word processing. Brain Res 1282:38-49
Dolcos, Florin; Diaz-Granados, Paul; Wang, Lihong et al. (2008) Opposing influences of emotional and non-emotional distracters upon sustained prefrontal cortex activity during a delayed-response working memory task. Neuropsychologia 46:326-35
Dolcos, Florin; Miller, Brian; Kragel, Philip et al. (2007) Regional brain differences in the effect of distraction during the delay interval of a working memory task. Brain Res 1152:171-81

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