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Sci Rep. 2014 Sep 1;4:6240. doi: 10.1038/srep06240.

Effective connectivity during animacy perception--dynamic causal modelling of Human Connectome Project data.

Author information

1] Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, London, WC1N 3AR, United Kingdom [2] Moral Cognition Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, 02138, United States.
Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, Institute of Neurology, University College London, WC1N 3BG, United Kingdom.
Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, London, WC1N 3AR, United Kingdom.


Biological agents are the most complex systems humans have to model and predict. In predictive coding, high-level cortical areas inform sensory cortex about incoming sensory signals, a comparison between the predicted and actual sensory feedback is made, and information about unpredicted sensory information is passed forward to higher-level areas. Predictions about animate motion - relative to inanimate motion - should result in prediction error and increase signal passing from lower level sensory area MT+/V5, which is responsive to all motion, to higher-order posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS), which is selectively activated by animate motion. We tested this hypothesis by investigating effective connectivity in a large-scale fMRI dataset from the Human Connectome Project. 132 participants viewed animations of triangles that were designed to move in a way that appeared animate (moving intentionally), or inanimate (moving in a mechanical way). We found that forward connectivity from V5 to the pSTS increased, and inhibitory self-connection in the pSTS decreased, when viewing intentional motion versus inanimate motion. These prediction errors associated with animate motion may be the cause for increased attention to animate stimuli found in previous studies.

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