Project 2. Specialized neural mechanism underlying social attention


Wang, R., Wang, L., Jiang, Y. Shared neural mechanism underlying attentional orienting triggered by eye gaze and biological motion: Evidence for a specialized social attention module in the human brain (in preparation).

Research background

Sharing attention with interactive partners via social cues (e.g., eye gaze and biological motion (BM)), referred to as social attention, plays an essential role in human adaptive functioning and interpersonal communication. Our previous studies have demonstrated that this fundamental social attention ability engages specialized cognitive and genetic mechanisms that can be shared across different social but not non-social cues. In light of these evidence, we further investigated whether there exists a specialized social attention module in the human brain using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in conjunction with a modified central cueing paradigm.


Figure 2.1 The social attention.

What analysis did i do

1. performed within-category multi-voxel pattern analysis (MVPA)
2. performed cross-category MVPA
3. tested the functional connectivity during different cue conditions by using psychophysiological interaction (PPI) analysis
4. implemented univariate analysis


Behavioral results


• The behavior results showed siginificant attentional effect of three types cues.

Within-category MVPA Results


• Within-category
BM cue:
- right anterior superior temporal sulcus (aSTS) and left posterior superior temporal gyrus (pSTG)
- precuneus, inferior parietal lobe, precentral, inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), insula, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), middle frontal gyrus (MFG), and superior frontal gyrus (SFG)
• Within-category (searchlight)
Gaze cue:
- right pSTS
- precuneus, postcentral, precentral, posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), IFG, MFG, and SFG
• Within-category (ROI)
BM ROIs: decoding gaze but not arrow cue
-right aSTS
Gaze ROIs: decoding BM but not arrow cue
-right pSTS

Cross-category MVPA Results


• Cross-category (ROI)
BM-gaze cues:
- right aSTS and pSTS
• Cross-category (searchlight)
BM-gaze cues:
- right aSTG and pSTG
- MTG, IFG, precuneus, ACC, SFG, MFG, supplementary motor area, and precentral
• Cross-category (searchlight)
BM & gaze & arrow cues:
- insula, SFG, MFG, and precentral

Co-author: Li Wang, Associate Prof. & Yi Jiang, Prof.
Copyright: Ruidi Wang.
Contact: [email protected] & [email protected]