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The majority of human neuroscience research has focussed on understanding functional organisation within segregated patches of cortex. The ventral visual stream has been associated with the detection of physical features such as faces and body parts, whereas the theory-of-mind network has been associated with making inferences about mental states and underlying character, such as whether someone is friendly, selfish, or generous. To date, however, it is largely unknown how such distinct processing components integrate neural
signals. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging and connectivity analyses, we investigated the contribution of functional integration to social perception. During scanning, participants observed bodies that had previously been associated with trait-based or neutral information. Additionally, we independently localised the body perception and ToM networks. We demonstrate that when observing someone who cues the recall of stored social
knowledge compared to non-social knowledge, a node in the ventral visual stream (extrastriate body area) shows greater coupling with part of the theory-of-mind network (temporal pole). These results show that functional connections provide an interface between perceptual and inferential processing components, thus providing neurobiological evidence that supports the view that understanding the visual environment involves interplay between conceptual knowledge and perceptual processing.

Keywords

  • Body perception, Theory of mind, Functional connectivity
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-60
JournalNeuropsychologia
Volume96
Early online date6 Jan 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017

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