Multi-Modal Analysis of Brain Networks for Social Interaction

The striking complexity of social relationships probably results from a coevolution of social skills and the primate brain, given the particular important of social-cognitive functions in primates and especially humans. The investigation of the neurobiological basis of social interaction using neuroimaging methods (PET, fMRT) has received much attention in recent years, with the field splitting up into increasingly specialized research streams. Neuroimaging studies on higher social processes, such as moral thinking, therefore rarely discuss results related to lower social processes, such as face recognition, and vice versa. The proposed research project hence sets out to multi-modally investigate brain regions that are important for both higher (abstract) and lower (sensory-related) processing of social information. The starting point is the comprehensive, meta-analytical definition of the brain regions involved in social processes. These functional seeds are then assessed with respect to commonalities and differences in brain connectivity among each other and with the rest of the brain. To this end, we will conduct connectivity analyses based on structural connectivity (fiber tracts), meta-analytical co-activations, “resting-state” correlations, and structural covariance. The network grouping properties of all seed regions will be described by clustering methods and graphtheoretical analyses in a data-driven fashion. This comprehensive analysis will provide new insights in the organization of brain networks involved in various aspects of social processing.