Copyright 1998-2014 Morten Kringelbach

SELECTED RECENT PROJECTS
Some of the recent research projects include the following projects, which investigate fundamental aspects of human brain processing forming part of the intriguing jigsaw, which may eventually lead us towards a full understanding of the functional neuroanatomy of human conscious and unconscious processing.

UNDERSTANDING THE HUMAN PARENTAL BRAIN: A CRITICAL ROLE OF THE ORBITOFRONTAL CORTEX

The bond between a parent and an infant often appears to form effortlessly and intuitively, and this relationship is fundamental to infant survival and development. Parenting is considered to depend on specific brain networks that are largely conserved across species and in place even before parenthood. Efforts to understand the neural basis of parenting in humans have focused on the overlapping networks implicated in reward and social cognition, within which the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is considered to be a crucial hub. This review examines emerging evidence that the OFC may be engaged in several phases of parent-infant interactions, from early, privileged orienting to infant cues, to ongoing monitoring of interactions and subsequent learning. Specifically, we review evidence suggesting that the OFC rapidly responds to a range of infant communicative cues, such as faces and voices, supporting their efficient processing. Crucially, this early orienting response may be fundamental in sup- porting adults to respond rapidly and appropriately to infant needs. We suggest a number of avenues for future research, including investigating neural activity in disrupted parenting, exploring multimodal cues, and consider- ation of neuroendocrine involvement in responsivity to infant cues. An increased understanding of the brain basis of caregiving will provide insight into our greatest challenge: parenting our young.

Figure. Physical differences between infant and adult faces and voices; and gender differences in perception. (A) Different facial configurations characterize infant and adult faces. Features typically described as "cute" include large eyes and pupils, small noses and mouths, a large forehead and cheeks. Left, image taken from Parsons et al. (2011); right, image taken from own database. (B) Typical features of an infant cry compared to an adult cry. Infant cries are characterized by high and variable pitch within the range of 200-600 Hz, and a longer duration of cry bursts and pauses. (C) "Liking" and "wanting" responses to infant faces of different levels of "cuteness," separated by gender, taken from Parsons et al. (2011). Left, "liking" as indexed by adults' attractiveness ratings of infant faces. Right, "wanting" as indexed by mean viewing times for the infant faces. Both men and women rated infant faces with more "infantile features" as significantly more attractive than infant faces with less "infantile features." Despite a discrepancy between male and female "liking" ratings, both genders demonstrated comparable "wanting" to view the infant faces.

(With Christine Parsons, Eloise Stark, Katherine Young & Alan Stein. See published paper in Social Neuroscience).







EXPLORING THE NETWORK DYNAMICS UNDERLYING BRAIN ACTIVITY DURING REST
Since the mid 1990s, the intriguing dynamics of the brain at rest has been attracting a growing body of research in neuroscience. Neuroimaging studies have revealed distinct functional networks that slowly activate and deactivate, pointing to the existence of an underlying network dynamics emerging spontaneously during rest, with specific spatial, temporal and spectral characteristics. Several theoretical scenarios have been proposed and tested with the use of large-scale computational models of coupled brain areas. However, a mechanistic explanation that encompasses all the phenomena observed in the brain during rest is still to come. In this review, we provide an overview of the key findings of resting-state activity covering a range of neuroimaging modalities including fMRI, EEG and MEG. We describe how to best define and analyze anatomical and functional brain networks and how unbalancing these networks may lead to problems with mental health. Finally, we review existing large-scale models of resting-state dynamics in health and disease. An important common feature of resting-state models is that the emergence of resting-state functional networks is obtained when the model parameters are such that the system operates at the edge of a bifurcation. At this critical working point, the global network dynamics reveals correlation patterns that are spatially shaped by the underlying anatomical structure, leading to an optimal fit with the empirical BOLD functional connectivity. However, new insights coming from recent studies, including faster oscillatory dynamics and non-stationary functional connectivity, must be taken into account in future models to fully understand the network mechanisms leading to the resting-state activity.

Comparison between structural connectivity and empirical and simulated functional connectivity. (A) Representation on the cortical surface of the structural connectivity (top), empirical functional connectivity (middle) and simulated functional connectivity (bottom), for 2 seeds, the right precuneus (above) and left cuneus (below). (B) Bar plot showing the structural and empirical/simulated functional connectivity for the left posterior cingulate. Adapted from Cabral et al. (2011b).

(With Joana Cabral and Gustavo Deco. See published paper in Progress in Neurobiology).







A SPECIFIC AND RAPID NEURAL SIGNATURE FOR PARENTAL INSTINCT

Darwin originally pointed out that there is something about infants which prompts adults to respond to and care for them, in order to increase individual fitness, i.e. reproductive success, via increased survivorship of one’s own offspring. Lorenz proposed that it is the specific structure of the infant face that serves to elicit these parental responses, but the biological basis for this remains elusive. Here, we investigated whether adults show specific brain responses to unfamiliar infant faces compared to adult faces, where the infant and adult faces had been carefully matched across the two groups for emotional valence and arousal, and attractiveness as well as size and luminosity. Methodology/Principal Findings
Using magnetoencephalography (MEG) in adults, we found that highly specific brain activity occurred within a seventh of a second in response to unfamiliar infant faces but not to adult faces. This activity occurred in the medial orbitofrontal cortex, an area implicated in reward-related behaviour, suggesting for the first time a neural basis for this vital evolutionary process. We found a peak in activity first in the medial orbitofrontal cortex and then in the right FFA (fusiform face area). In the medial orbitofrontal cortex the first significant peak (p<0.001) in differences in power between infant and adult faces in the 10-15Hz band was found at around 130 ms. These early differences were not found in the FFA. In contrast, differences in power were found later, at around 165 ms, in a different band (20-25Hz) in the right FFA, suggesting that there might be a feedback effect from the medial orbitofrontal cortex.
The findings provide evidence in humans of a potential brain basis for the “innate releasing mechanisms” described by Lorenz for affection and nurturing of young infants. There is a potentially important clinical application of the present findings in relation to postnatal depression, where the present paradigm could eventually provide opportunities for early identification of families at risk.

Figure. Time-frequency analysis of neural activity in medial orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and the right fusiform face area (FFA). Significantly different responses were found in the medial OFC but not in the right FFA between viewing infant compared to adult faces. A) Time-frequency representations of the normalised evoked average group responses to infant and adult faces from the virtual electrodes in the medial OFC reveal that the initial response to infant faces is present in the 12-20 Hz band from around 130 ms - and not present to adult faces. B) The responses in right FFA occurred earlier in time but were not significantly different before 165 ms when viewing infant compared to adult faces. This can be seen from the time-frequency representations of the normalised evoked average group from the virtual electrodes, where initial activity was present from around 100 ms in the 10-20Hz and in the 25-35Hz bands. The white stippled line and the orange arrow indicates when the faces were presented in time.

(With Annukka Lehtonen, Sarah Squire, Allison G. Harvey, Michelle G. Craske, Ian E. Holliday, Alexander L. Green, Tipu Z. Aziz, Peter C. Hansen, Piers L. Cornelissen and Alan Stein. See published paper in PLOS One).







TRANSLATIONAL PRINCIPLES OF DEEP BRAIN STIMULATION
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has shown remarkable therapeutic benefits for patients with otherwise treatment-resistant movement and affective disorders. This technique is not only clinically useful but can also provide new insights into fundamental brain function through direct manipulation of both local and distributed brain networks in many different species. In particular, DBS can be used in conjunction with non-invasive neuroimaging methods such as magnetoencephalography to map the fundamental mechanisms of normal and abnormal oscillatory synchronization underlying human brain function. The precise mechanisms of action for DBS remain uncertain but here we give an up-to-date overview of the principles of DBS, its neural mechanisms and potential future applications.

Neuroimaging of deep brain stimulation (DBS). a) Significant effects of stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) on blood flow measured with positron emission tomography (PET). Significant increases (white to red) were found in the left midbrain (top), while significant decreases (light to dark blue) were found in midline frontal to parietal cortices, bilateral somatosensory and motor areas and prefrontal cortex. b) Data from a magnetoencephalography (MEG) experiment of DBS stimulation in the periventricular/periaquaeductal grey area (PVG/PAG) for the treatment of phantom limb pain. When subjective pain relief was obtained with DBS, there were significant activity increases in the left mid-anterior orbitofrontal cortex and right subgenual cingulate cortex (left coronal and axial brain slices). Activity in these brain regions was not found when DBS was turned off, resulting in significant more pain (right coronal and axial brain slices). The significant changes in event-related synchronous and desynchronous power in specific frequency bands are shown on scales from light yellow to red and from purple to dark blue, respectively. c) Three-dimensional rendering of activity measured with MEG on the human brain with a DBS electrode implanted in the PVG/PAG for the treatment of chronic pain. The significant increases in activity are shown in shades of orange, while the other colours represent landmark brain structures: thalamus (green), cerebellum (blue) and brainstem (light blue). d) Three-dimensional rendering of the anatomical connectivity from the four DBS electrode contact sites in the PVG/PAG as assessed with DTI, with the probabilistic tractography presented in different colours from more (yellow) to less significant (dark red). Note the extensive connections with the prefrontal cortex and in particular the orbitofrontal cortex.

(With Sarah L.F. Owen, Ned Jenkinson and Tipu Aziz. Published paper in Nature Review Neuroscience. Request reprint ).

Link to online videos of DBS.






DEEP BRAIN STIMULATION FOR CHRONIC PAIN INVESTIGATED WITH MAGNETOENCEPHALOGRAPHY
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has shown remarkable potential in alleviating otherwise treatment-resistant chronic pain, but little is currently known about the underlying neural mechanisms. Here for the first time, we used non-invasive neuroimaging by magnetoencephalography to map changes in neural activity induced by DBS in a patient with severe phantom limb pain. When the stimulator was turned off the patient reported significant increases in subjective pain. Corresponding significant changes in neural activity were found in a network including the mid-anterior orbitofrontal and subgenual cingulate cortices; these areas are known to be involved in pain relief. Hence they could potentially serve as future surgical targets to relieve chronic pain.

Mapping mechanisms of DBS with MEG. Brain activity when the patient reported subjective pain relief (DBS on) and pain (DBS off). Top part of figure shows that in the pain relief condition there were significant activity in the left mid-anterior orbitofrontal cortex and right subgenual cingulate cortex. Activity in these regions was not found in the pain condition (bottom part of figure).

(With Tipu Aziz et al. Published paper in NeuroReport. Request reprint).







THE HUMAN ORBITOFRONTAL CORTEX: LINKING REWARD TO HEDONIC EXPERIENCE
Hedonic experience is arguably at the heart of what makes us human. In recent neuroimaging studies of the cortical networks that mediate hedonic experience in the human brain, the orbitofrontal cortex has emerged as the strongest candidate for linking food and other kinds of reward to hedonic experience. The human orbitofrontal cortex is among the least understood regions of the human brain but has been proposed to be involved in sensory integration, in representing the affective value of reinforcers, and in decision making and expectation. Here, the functional neuroanatomy of the human orbitofrontal cortex is described and a novel integrated model of its functions is proposed, including a possible role in mediating hedonic experience.

Co-activation of the lateral orbitofrontal and anterior cingulate cortices. a) The lateral orbitofrontal and parts of the anterior cingulate cortices in the rostral cingulate zone are often co-activated in neuroimaging studies (with the regions superimposed in red), often when evaluating punishers that, when detected, can lead to a change in behaviour. (The orbitofrontal cortex is shown in orange, the amygdala in yellow and the cingulate cortex in green.) b) A positron-emission tomography (PET) study investigating analgesia and placebo found that the lateral orbitofrontal and anterior cingulate cortices were co-active in placebo responders, suggesting that the pain relief of placebo might be related to co-activation of these two brain areas. Modified from (Petrovic et al., 2002). c) A recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study found that the lateral orbitofrontal and the anterior cingulate/paracingulate cortices are together responsible for changing behaviour in an object reversal task. This task was set up to model aspects of human social interactions. Subjects were required to keep track of the faces of two people and to select the ‘happy’ person, who would change mood after some time, and subjects had to learn to change, reverse, their behaviour to choose the other person. The most significant activity during the reversal phase was found in the lateral orbitofrontal and cingulate cortices (red and green circles), while the main effects of faces were found to elicit activity in the fusiform gyrus and intraparietal sulcus (blue circles). Modified from (Kringelbach and Rolls, 2003).

(Published paper in Nature Review Neuroscience. Request reprint).







VISUAL WORD RECOGNITION: THE FIRST HALF SECOND
We used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to map the spatio-temporal evolution of cortical activity for visual word recognition. We show that, for 5-letter words, activity in the left hemisphere (LH) fusiform gyrus expands systematically in both the posterior-anterior and medial-lateral directions over the course of the first 500 ms after stimulus presentation. Contrary to what would be expected on the basis of cognitive models and haemodynamic studies, the component of this activity which spatially coincides with the visual word form area (VWFA) is not active until around 200 ms post-stimulus, and, critically, this activity is preceded by and co-active with activity in parts of the inferior frontal gyrus (IFG, BA44/6). The spread of activity in the VWFA for words does not appear in isolation but is co-active in parallel with spread of activity in anterior middle temporal gyrus (aMTG, BA 21 and 38), posterior middle temporal gyrus (pMTG, BA37/39) and IFG.

Brain activity on milliseconds scale. Temporal evolution of brain activity elicited by visual word presentation. The figure shows the SAM group analysis of brain activity measured every 25 milliseconds with MEG (in the 10-20 Hz band) and superimposed on a canonical brain with the cerebellum removed. The top row shows the activity in the left hemisphere while the corresponding bottom row shows the activity in the ventral parts of the human brain.

(In collaboration with Kristen Pammer, Peter Hansen, Piers Cornelissen, Gareth Barnes, Krish Singh & Arjan Hillebrand; for a full description of our findings, see the published paper in Neuroimage).






FOOD FOR THOUGHT: HEDONIC EXPERIENCE BEYOND HOMEOSTASIS IN THE HUMAN BRAIN
Food intake is an essential human activity regulated by homeostatic and hedonic systems in the brain which has mostly been ignored by the cognitive neurosciences. Yet, the study of food intake integrates fundamental cognitive and emotional processes in the human brain, and can in particular provide evidence on the neural correlates of the hedonic experience central to guiding behaviour. Neuroimaging experiments provide a novel basis for the further exploration of the brain systems involved in the conscious experience of pleasure and reward, and thus provide a unique method for studying the hedonic quality of human experience. Recent neuroimaging experiments have identified some of the regions involved in the cortical networks mediating hedonic experience in the human brain, with the evidence suggesting that the orbitofrontal cortex is the perhaps strongest candidate for linking food and other kinds of reward to hedonic experience. Based on the reviewed literature, a model is proposed to account for the roles of the different parts of the orbitofrontal cortex in this hedonic network.

Model of OFC function. Proposed model for the interaction between sensory and hedonic systems in the human brain using as an example one hemisphere of the orbitofrontal cortex.  Information is flowing from left to right on the figure. Sensory information about primary (e.g. taste, smell, touch and pain) and secondary (e.g. visual) reinforcers is sent from the periphery to the primary sensory cortices (e.g. anterior insula/frontal operculum for taste), where the stimulus identity is decoded into stable cortical representations. This information is then conveyed for further multimodal integration in brain structures in the posterior parts of the orbitofrontal cortex. The reward value of the reinforcer is assigned in more anterior parts of the orbitofrontal cortex from where it can then be used for influencing subsequent behaviour (in lateral parts of the anterior orbitofrontal cortex from where it is sent to anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex), stored for learning (medial parts of the anterior orbitofrontal cortex) and made available for subjective hedonic experience (mid-anterior orbitofrontal cortex). The reward value and thus also the subjective hedonic experience of a reinforcer can be modulated by hunger and other internal states, while the identity representations in primary sensory cortices are remarkably stable and not subjected to modulation. It should be noted that there is, of course, important reciprocal information flowing between the higher level regions of the orbitofrontal cortex.

(For a full description, see the published paper in Neuroscience)






THE FUNCTIONAL NEUROANATOMY OF THE HUMAN ORBITOFRONTAL CORTEX: EVIDENCE FROM NEUROIMAGING AND NEUROPSYCHOLOGY

The human orbitofrontal cortex is an important brain region for the processing of rewards and punishments, which is a prerequisite for the complex and flexible emotional and social behaviour which contributes to the evolutionary success of humans. Yet much remains to be discovered about the functions of this key brain region, and new evidence from functional neuroimaging and clinical neuropsychology is affording new insights into the different functions of the human orbitofrontal cortex. We review the neuroanatomical and neuropsychological literature on the human orbitofrontal cortex, and propose two distinct trends of neural activity based on a meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies. One is a medio-lateral distinction, whereby medial orbitofrontal cortex activity is related to monitoring the reward value of many different reinforcers, whereas lateral orbitofrontal cortex activity is related to the evaluation of punishers which may lead to a change in ongoing behaviour. The second is a posterior-anterior distinction with more complex or abstract reinforcers (such as monetary gain and loss) represented more anteriorly in the orbitofrontal cortex than simpler reinforcers such as taste or pain. Finally, we propose new neuroimaging methods for obtaining further evidence on the localisation of function in the human orbitofrontal cortex.



Meta-analysis. The 267 activations in stereotaxic space from all the reviewed studies are shown rendered on the orbital surface of the human brain. The two centres of mass of the clusters for activations related to motivation-independent reinforcer representation (blue circles) are marked with a dark blue cross, while the centre of mass of the cluster of activations related to monitoring of reward value (light green diamonds) is marked with a white cross. Similarly, the two centres of mass of the clusters related to punishers leading to changes in behaviour (yellow triangles) are marked with a red cross. Statistical analysis of the activations in these clusters confirms that the clusters are significantly separated in a medial-lateral and anterior-posterior trend.

(For a full description of our findings, see the published paper in Progress in Neurobiology).






MONETARY GAMBLING TASK

Using event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging we measured brain activation in human subjects performing an emotion-related visual reversal-learning task in which choice of the correct stimulus led to a probabilistically determined 'monetary' reward and of the incorrect stimulus to a 'monetary' loss. Distinct areas of the OFC were activated by monetary rewards and punishments. Moreover, in these areas a correlation was found between the magnitude of the brain activation and the magnitude of the rewards and punishments received. These findings indicate that one way in which the human orbitofrontal cortex is involved in emotion is that it represents the magnitudes of even quite abstract rewards and punishments such as receiving or losing money. The discovery of a clear dissociation between two different parts of the OFC representing the magnitude of the size of punishment and the size of reward in a reversal/gambling task, coupled with the difficulties patients with damage to the OFC experience in performing the task, have obvious and important clinical implications for the understanding and treatment of psychiatric emotional conditions such as brain injuries, anxiety, depression, pathological gambling and addiction.

Reversal/gambling task. Subjects had to choose between two easily discriminable stimuli associated with monetary rewards and punishments and by trial and error to determine which stimulus was the more profitable to choose and to keep track of this and reverse their choice when a reversal occurred. We demonstrated for the first time that dissociable regions of the OFC are activated by monetary reward and punishment. (a) Voxels in the OFC and other regions whose activity increases relative to the increasing magnitude of Reward or of Punishment obtained. Voxels in an area of left medial OFC correlated positively with Reward (above), and voxels in an area of right lateral OFC correlated positively with Punishment (below). (b) The median percent change in BOLD signal from baseline across subjects (with the value for each subject with a significant effect shown at p < 0.005 in the random effects single event correlation analysis) for 6 different category ranges of reward and punishment.

(In collaboration with John O'Doherty, Edmund T. Rolls, Julia Hornak, Caroline Andrews; for a full description of our findings, see the published paper in Nature Neuroscience).






PLEASANT AND UNPLEASANT TOUCH

The cortical areas that represent affectively positive and negative aspects of touch were investigated using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) by comparing activations produced by pleasant touch, painful touch produced by a stylus, and neutral touch to the left hand. We found that regions of the orbitofrontal cortex were activated more by pleasant touch and by painful stimuli than by neutral touch, and that different areas of the orbitofrontal cortex were activated by the pleasant and painful touch. The orbitofrontal cortex activation was related to the affective aspects of the touch, in that the somatosensory cortex (SI) was less activated by the pleasant and painful stimuli that by the neutral stimuli. This dissociation was highly significant for both the pleasant touch (p<0.006) and for the painful stimulus (p<0.02). Further, it was found that a rostral part of the anterior cingulate cortex was activated by the pleasant stimulus, and that a more posterior and dorsal part was activated by the painful stimulus. Regions of the somatosensory cortex including SI, and part of SII in the mid insula were activated more by the neutral touch than by the pleasant and painful stimuli. Part of the posterior insula was activated only in the pain condition, and different parts of the brainstem including the central gray were activated in the pain, pleasant, and neutral touch conditions. The results provide evidence that different areas of the human orbitofrontal cortex are involved in representing both pleasant touch and pain, and that dissociable parts of the cingulate cortex are involved in representing pleasant touch and pain.

Touch in the brain. We found that dissociable regions of the orbitofrontal cortex are representing the affective dimensions of touch. In the figure is shown two sets of slices (coronal and transverse) with the group results in the orbitofrontal activations to pleasant (left) and painful (right) touch. The activations are significant at p<0.05 corrected for multiple comparisons but are thresholded at p<0.0001 for extent.

(In collaboration with Edmund T. Rolls, John O'Doherty, Sue Francis, Richard Bowtell and Francis McGlone; for a full description of our findings, see the published paper in Cerebral Cortex).







THE FIFTH TASTE
Umami taste stimuli, of which an exemplar is monosodium glutamate (MSG) and which capture what is described as the taste of protein, were shown using fMRI to activate similar cortical regions of the human taste system to those activated by a prototypical taste stimulus, glucose. These taste regions included the insular/opercular cortex and the caudolateral orbitofrontal cortex. A part of the rostral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) was also activated. When the nucleotide 0.005 M inosine 5'-monophosphate (IMP) was added to MSG (0.05 M), the BOLD (blood oxygenation-level dependent) signal in an anterior part of the orbitofrontal cortex showed supralinear additivity, and this may reflect the subjective enhancement of umami taste that has been described when a small dose of IMP is added to MSG.

Synergism in the human brain. Results of an SPM analysis to show brain regions where significantly larger activations were found to the combination taste stimulus MSG and IMP (MSGIMP) than to the sum of the activations produced by MSG and IMP delivered separately. The statistical analysis revealed a region of the orbitofrontal cortex, which is shown on the left rendered on the ventral surface of human cortical areas with the cerebellum removed. On the right is shown the time course of activation of the three tastants and the full extent of activation in an SPM glass brain.

(In collaboration with Ivan de Araujo, Edmund T. Rolls, Peter Hobden; for a full description of our findings, see the published paper in Journal of Neurophysiology).






THE PLEASANTNESS OF THE FLAVOUR OF FOOD

The pleasantness of the flavour of food was investigated in humans using a sensory-specific satiety paradigm in functional MRI. Our results show clear activations to the flavour of food in the primary and secondary gustatory, olfactory and somatosensory areas, which include the insula, the frontal operculum/insula and the orbitofrontal cortex. Furthermore, we found that areas of the mediolateral OFC were significantly correlated with subjective pleasantness ratings of the flavour of food (see Figure 2). These findings have important implications for the regulation of food intake and suggest possible routes for future research into devastating eating disorders such as obesity, anorexia and bulimia - not to mention the implications for normal food intake.

The pleasantness of food. On the left is shown a coronal section through regions of orbitofrontal cortex with activation correlating with the subject's pleasantness ratings of the foods throughout the experiment. On the right is shown a plot of the SPM effect size of the fitted haemodynamic response against the subjective pleasantness ratings (on a scale from -2 to +2) and peristimulus time in seconds. This is the first time that a correlation has been demonstrated between brain activity and the subjective pleasantness of food.

(In collaboration with John O'Doherty, Edmund T. Rolls, Caroline Andrews; for a full description of our findings, see the published paper in Cerebral Cortex).






SOCIAL REWARD
Humans and other primates spend much of their time engaged in social interactions in which one of the most crucial abilities is to decode face expressions and act accordingly. This rapid context-dependent social learning has been proposed to be key to the relative evolutionary success of primates but its neural correlates have remained unstudied. Here we provide the first neuroimaging evidence that the ability to change behaviour based on face expression in social interactions is specifically correlated with activity in the human orbitofrontal and anterior cingulate cortices, and not reflected in the activations in the fusiform face area (see Figure 3). The discovery of how regions of the OFC and anterior cingulate cortex interact to change behaviour based on face expression is crucial for understanding how social communicatory cues shape human behaviour, and could have important clinical implications for the treatment of neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders in the future.

Social reward. At the heart of social intelligence is the ability to detect subtle changes in communication and act upon these changes rapidly as they occur. We devised a reversal task to capture the essence of social interaction based on face expression. The goal of the task is to keep track of the mood of two people presented in a pair and as much as possible to select the 'happy' person (who will then smile). Over time the person who gives a smile changes, so that the previously 'happy' person becomes 'angry' (and will show an angry expression if selected), and vice versa, and the subject then has to learn to change her choices accordingly. The results showed that changing behaviour based on face expression is correlated with increased brain activity in the human orbitofrontal cortex as shown at the left of the figure in the cluster in the right orbitofrontal cortex across all nine subjects. Significant activity was also seen in the anterior cingulate cortex. On the right of the figure the brain response is shown to the main effects of presenting neutral faces, with significant activation in the fusiform gyrus and the cortex in the intraparietal sulcus. Group statistical results are superimposed on a ventral view of the human brain with the cerebellum removed, and on coronal slices of the same template brain.

(For a full description of our findings, see the published paper in Neuroimage).






Some links

Aziz' lab: Oxford Functional Neurosurgery
Berridge Lab : world-expert on pleasure
Deco Lab: Computational Neurosciences Group
Vuust Lab : bass player, composer and neuroscientist
Dehaene Lab: neuroimaging research on consciousness and language
NBR lab: Investigations into the Neural Basis of Reading
OHBA: Oxford centre for Human Brain Activity
CFIN: centre for functionally integrative neuroscience
FMRIB: Oxford centre for functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain
Hélène Neveu Kringelbach: anthropologist
Louise Kringelbach: writer
Cotterill: RMJ Cotterill (1933-2007) wrote extensively and insightfully on consciousness