Poster A19, Saturday, March 24, 1:30–3:30 pm, Exhibit Hall C
Comparing human and monkey neural circuits for processing social scenes
Julia Sliwa1, Sadie R Marvel2, Geena Ianni1, Winrich A Freiwald1; 1The Rockefeller University, New York, 2Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York
Recognizing agents, their actions, and their interactions is essential for understanding the world around us. In the monkey brain, these cognitive steps engage serially three distinct neural circuits: The face and body patches, the Mirror Neuron System (MNS) and finally the Exclusively Social Interaction Network, a putative precursor of the Theory of Mind (ToM) network in monkeys. It remains unknown however whether humans and monkeys employ same or different neural strategies to process social scenes. To answer we scanned human subjects with fMRI, while they were presented with the same videos as the ones presented to monkeys, and additionally with videos of social scenes involving human actors. We show that similarly to monkeys, humans 1) engage face and body areas in all social video conditions, and 2) engage the MNS in a generic manner for watching agent-object, agent-agent and object-object interactions. Yet contrary to monkeys, humans 1) spontaneously engage the ToM network also when watching non-acting agents, and 2) equally enhance the activity of the ToM network when watching agents performing goal-directed actions and social interactions. These results identify which neural strategies are shared and which ones adapted to the specific needs of the species.
Topic Area: EMOTION & SOCIAL: Person perception