en
Scientific article
Open access
English

Processing social aspects of human gaze: a combined fMRI-DTI study

Published inNeuroImage, vol. 55, no. 1, p. 411-419
Publication date2011
Abstract

Human gaze is a critical social cue that can reveal intentions and dispositions of others. The right posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) is thought to be critically involved in processing eye gaze information. We combined diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify direct neural connections of right pSTS and to determine how these connections are modulated by the social significance of perceived gaze shifts. Participants saw faces with direct or averted gaze during event-related fMRI. Half of these faces remained static, and half displayed a dynamic gaze shift either towards or away from the subject. Social attention (dynamic gaze shifts towards the observer) not only increased activity in right pSTS, but also its functional connectivity with the right anterior insula (aIns) and right fusiform gyrus (FG). However, direct fiber connections from pSTS were demonstrated by DTI for the right aIns, but not the right FG. Moreover, the right FG responded to eye motion irrespective of direction and social significance; whereas the right aIns was selectively sensitive to social significance (i.e. gaze shifts towards the observer), but not generally to eye motion. We conclude that the social aspects of mutual gaze contact are processed by direct fiber pathways between right pSTS and right aIns; whereas increased connectivity with FG could reflect an enhanced perceptual analysis of changing facial features in dynamic gaze conditions and involves indirect fiber pathways with pSTS, perhaps via motion-selective regions in middle temporal (MT) gyrus that exhibited strong white-matter connections with both pSTS and FG and could thus provide inputs to these two areas.

Keywords
  • Adult
  • Attention/physiology
  • Brain/physiology
  • Cues
  • Diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging/methods
  • Female
  • Fixation, Ocular/physiology
  • Gestures
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging/methods
  • Male
  • Social Behavior
Citation (ISO format)
ETHOFER, Thomas Stefan, GSCHWIND, Markus A., VUILLEUMIER, Patrik. Processing social aspects of human gaze: a combined fMRI-DTI study. In: NeuroImage, 2011, vol. 55, n° 1, p. 411–419. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2010.11.033
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
accessLevelPublic
Identifiers
ISSN of the journal1053-8119
600views
951downloads

Technical informations

Creation11/20/2012 9:15:00 AM
First validation11/20/2012 9:15:00 AM
Update time03/14/2023 7:54:50 PM
Status update03/14/2023 7:54:50 PM
Last indexation01/16/2024 12:49:48 AM
All rights reserved by Archive ouverte UNIGE and the University of GenevaunigeBlack