Poster E28, Monday, March 27, 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Pacific Concourse
Activation of left temporoparietal junction during mentalizing is directly related to performance in social interactions
Abdulaziz Abubshait1, George A. Buzzell1,2, Paul J. Beatty1, Eva Wiese1,2; 1George Mason University, 2Center of Excellence in Neuroergonomics, Technology, and Cognition (CENTEC)
In social interactions, we heavily rely on nonverbal cues to understand the behavior of others and the surrounding environment The gaze direction of others, for exam-ple, inform us about what they are currently interested in and warn about potential dangers in the environment. How we react to these cues is strongly determined by the degree to which they are believed to originate from an entity with a mind that possess internal states. Mind perception is subserved by a brain network consisting of the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and the temporoparietal junction (TPJ) and is a prerequisite for theory of mind and mentalizing. Here, we investigate whether activation in the mentalizing network is directly related to performance during so-cial interactions. We measured fMRI activation during a social judgment task and related patterns of activation to performance during a socially interactive task using parametric analysis. Specifically, we asked participants to rate agents of differing degrees of humanness regarding their capabilities of having internal states and test-ed whether a parametric analysis of this activation, weighted by behavior during a gaze-cueing task that used the same agents, revealed significant activation within the mentalizing network. Results showed activation in the whole mentalizing net-work during the social judgment task, however, only activation in the left TPJ was related to performance during the social interaction task. This finding is in line with the involvement of the left TPJ in anthropomorphism and mental perspective taking and emphasizes the high degree of specialization within the mentalizing network.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Person perception