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Nat Neurosci. 2018 Mar;21(3):415-423. doi: 10.1038/s41593-018-0082-8. Epub 2018 Feb 19.

Shared neural coding for social hierarchy and reward value in primate amygdala.

Author information

1
Department of Neuroscience, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA. jerome.munuera@gmail.com.
2
IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY, USA.
3
Department of Neuroscience, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA. cds2005@columbia.edu.
4
Kavli Institute for Brain Sciences, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA. cds2005@columbia.edu.
5
Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA. cds2005@columbia.edu.
6
New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY, USA. cds2005@columbia.edu.
7
Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA. cds2005@columbia.edu.

Abstract

The social brain hypothesis posits that dedicated neural systems process social information. In support of this, neurophysiological data have shown that some brain regions are specialized for representing faces. It remains unknown, however, whether distinct anatomical substrates also represent more complex social variables, such as the hierarchical rank of individuals within a social group. Here we show that the primate amygdala encodes the hierarchical rank of individuals in the same neuronal ensembles that encode the rewards associated with nonsocial stimuli. By contrast, orbitofrontal and anterior cingulate cortices lack strong representations of hierarchical rank while still representing reward values. These results challenge the conventional view that dedicated neural systems process social information. Instead, information about hierarchical rank-which contributes to the assessment of the social value of individuals within a group-is linked in the amygdala to representations of rewards associated with nonsocial stimuli.

PMID:
29459764
PMCID:
PMC6092962
DOI:
10.1038/s41593-018-0082-8
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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