Though social signaling dysfunction contributes significantly to the human costs of many disorders (e.g. depression, anxiety, autism, schizophrenia), circuit-level neural mechanisms for social evaluation and responsiveness remain poorly understood. Healthy social behavior emerges during complex developmental interactions between individual and environment, but little is known about the circuit-level mechanisms which enable us to thrive in our societies. This project aims to study neural mechanisms of social signal processing, including both signal perception and production, and specifically investigating the role of anterior temporal and anterior cingulate regions in evaluating and responding appropriately to social stimuli. Neural activity in the anterior temporal lobes is associated with social signal perception, and in the anterior cingulate is associated with reward monitoring, behavioral control and spontaneous production of communication signals, but little is known about their interaction during social behavior. The combination of imaging-guided electrophysiology and new multi-electrode recording analysis methods are well-suited to determining the structure and function of these large-scale neural circuits. By monitoring gaze, facial behavior, and neural responses in anterior temporal lobe and anterior cingulate during social signal exchange, this project will relate neural mechanisms of social signal perception to those that govern signal production in real-world interactions. This project will support the grantee in his transition from mentored to independent research on neural mechanisms of social interaction through research training at the Rockefeller University on imaging- guided electrophysiology and network analysis methods. The grantee's career development will be overseen by a committee comprising both the primary mentor and other well-established neuroscience faculty at the home institution and neighboring research facilities. This training plan is designed to meet the need for postgraduate training to integrate neuroscientific, ethological, and psychological approaches to bio behavioral function and development.

Public Health Relevance

Healthy bio behavioral development in primates requires appropriate response to social feedback conveyed through facial expression;in humans, dysfunctional emotional signaling compromises both mental health (depression, anxiety, autism, schizophrenia) and social stability (risk-taking, violence, drug abuse, crime). I aim to investigat the neural mechanisms of emotional communication by tracing a large-scale brain network which interprets perceived facial expressions to produce socially- appropriate responses.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Career Transition Award (K99)
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Developmental Biology Subcommittee (CHHD)
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Freund, Lisa S
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Rockefeller University
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New York
United States
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