On Friday, September 28th our very own Professor James Thompson was a part of the Center for Adaptive Systems of Brain-Body Interactions (CASBBI) at the Krasnow Institute on Perceptual and neural mechanisms contributing to social networks. In case you missed it, here is a brief description of what he discussed during the seminar!
Most people are members of large and complex social networks. Our roles within these networks can change over time, as can the roles and connections of others. Complex and dynamic social connections can produce uncertainty during interpersonal and/or group interactions. The uncertainty that comes from increased social complexity may have driven the evolution of communication complexity, including the evolution of nonvocal communication such as gestures and emotional expressions. For senders, nonverbal gestures and facial expressions provide information to others about context and our intentions. For the recipient, mechanisms are needed to decode these signals and incorporate them into inferences of intentions. In this presentation, I will discuss brain mechanisms that underlie our ability to decode nonverbal communicatory signals such as gestures and emotional expressions. While there are several regions involved in this task, a region of the temporal lobe, known as the posterior superior temporal sulcus, plays a particularly important role. Evidence suggesting a link between the role of this region in the decoding of social signals and the size and complexity of social networks will be discussed. Study of the mechanisms underlying social perception and the decoding of social signals is fundamental to understanding how we form and maintain social connections.
For more information, please take a look here.