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Neuroimage. 2019 Sep;198:296-302. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2019.05.027. Epub 2019 May 14.

Dyadic interaction processing in the posterior temporal cortex.

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School of Psychology, Bangor University, Wales, UK. Electronic address:
School of Psychology, Bangor University, Wales, UK.


Recent behavioural evidence shows that visual displays of two individuals interacting are not simply encoded as separate individuals, but as an interactive unit that is 'more than the sum of its parts'. Recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) evidence shows the importance of the posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) in processing human social interactions, and suggests that it may represent human-object interactions as qualitatively 'greater' than the average of their constituent parts. The current study aimed to investigate whether the pSTS or other posterior temporal lobe region(s): 1) Demonstrated evidence of a dyadic information effect - that is, qualitatively different responses to an interacting dyad than to averaged responses of the same two interactors, presented in isolation, and; 2) Significantly differentiated between different types of social interactions. Multivoxel pattern analysis was performed in which a classifier was trained to differentiate between qualitatively different types of dyadic interactions. Above-chance classification of interactions was observed in 'interaction selective' pSTS-I and extrastriate body area (EBA), but not in other regions of interest (i.e. face-selective STS and mentalizing-selective temporo-parietal junction). A dyadic information effect was not observed in the pSTS-I, but instead was shown in the EBA; that is, classification of dyadic interactions did not fully generalise to averaged responses to the isolated interactors, indicating that dyadic representations in the EBA contain unique information that cannot be recovered from the interactors presented in isolation. These findings complement previous observations for congruent grouping of human bodies and objects in the broader lateral occipital temporal cortex area.


EBA; LOTC; Social interaction; fMRI; pSTS

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