Directors of the School: Antonio M. Battro and Kurt W. Fischer
Directors of the Course: Uri Hasson and Thalia Wheatley
Neural substrates of eye-contact in real-time: a hyperscanning fMRI study
Eye contact links humans for communication, and is critical for early development of social cognition. We focused on its essential characteristics, which is real-time and mutual interaction. Eye-contact in real-time is a two-way behavioral stimulus-to-brain coupling such that the behavior of one person is coupled to the brain activation of other, and vice versa. Thus, eye-contact in real-time can be modeled as the mirrored predictive-reactive system which tracks partner’s output as input. Our hypothesis is that, during eye-contact in real-time, the iterative process within the inter-individual circuit causes the subtle perceptual input to be amplified, thus the circuit to be activated in contrast to the off-line condition. Using hyperscanning fMRI, we depicted the neural substrates eye-contact in real-time. The double video system with the picture delay circuit allows the assignment of real-time eye-contact (LIVE), off-line eye-contact (REPLAY) in the fMRI run. Regarding behavioral index, we found that eye-movement of one participant is significantly influenced by that of partner specifically in the LIVE condition. In terms of neural activation, compared the LIVE with REPLAY condition, greater activation was found in the left cerebellar hemisphere and vermis, and the cingulate motor area. Present results suggest that high sensitivity to the social contingency during eye-contact is based on the mirror-configured reactive predictive controller system that is represented by the cortico-cerebellar networks.