Studies have shown that the posterior region in the Superior Temporal Sulcus (STSp) is an important brain region for perceptual analysis of social cognitive cues. Given the multifaceted nature of social perception, it is evident that several other cortical regions coordinate together to process various aspects of socially relevant perceptual cues. It is reasonable to assume that STSp is a part of a distributed cortical system for social perception. I have investigated this through three different experiments.
In the first study I characterize the functional specialization of the region of STSp co-activated by three core social perception localizer tasks: biological motion perception, gaze recognition, and the interpretation of moving geometric shapes as animate. I have found underlying neural processing within the STSp that are core and distinct across different social tasks, with distinct hemispheric differences
In the second study I analyze the pattern of connectivity of the STSp within the large scale social perception network. I identified brain regions associated with the three representative socially relevant perceptual tasks and computed the effective connectivity pattern between the them and the STSp. I have uncovered a core pattern of cortical connectivity that supports the hypothesis that the STSp serves as a hub of the social brain network.
To understand the emergence of the relationship between the cortical regions through the different developmental stages. As a first step to investigate the developmental changes in the connectivity pattern of the social perception network, in my third study, I compare how the functional connectivity differs between both kids and adults brains when perceiving biological motion (a representative socially relevant task).
In conclusion, my research brings forth evidence of the important role STSp plays in social perception. Specifically, the right STSp serves as the hub for the distributed network for processing visual social perception.