Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The amygdala as the hub of three brain networks supporting our social life.

I pass on this very useful summary by Bickart et al. that summarizes brain connectivity experiments in rodents, monkeys, and humans to develop a description that has the amygdala as a anchor in three partially distinct brain networks (serving perception, affiliation, and aversion) that each engage a distinct domain of social behavior. Their highlights, followed by the abstract and the main graphic:

• We synthesize extant animal and human data to describe networks of the social brain. 
• The amygdala anchors 3 networks, each supporting a distinct social process. 
• People with stronger connectivity in 2 of these networks have larger social networks. 
• People with degeneration in these networks have corresponding social deficits. 
• We discuss future directions and implications for this novel componential framework.
A growing body of evidence suggests that the amygdala is central to handling the demands of complex social life in primates. In this paper, we synthesize extant anatomical and functional data from rodents, monkeys, and humans to describe the topography of three partially distinct large-scale brain networks anchored in the amygdala that each support unique functions for effectively managing social interactions and maintaining social relationships. These findings provide a powerful componential framework for parsing social behavior into partially distinct neural underpinnings that differ among healthy people and disintegrate or fail to develop in neuropsychiatric populations marked by social impairment, such as autism, antisocial personality disorder, and frontotemporal dementia.
Here is their central graphic:

Figure: Topographic schematic of amygdala subregions and their affiliated large-scale networks subserving social cognition. A schematic of (a) the amygdala subregions in coronal view that are anchors for (b) three large-scale networks subserving processes important for social cognition. Abbreviations: Ins, insula; SS, somatosensory operculum; STS, superior temporal sulcus; dTP, dorsal temporal pole; OFC, orbitofrontal cortex; cACC, caudal anterior cingulate cortex; rACC, rostral anterior cingulate cortex; sgACC, subgenual anterior cingulate cortex; vmPFC, ventromedial prefrontal cortex; MTL, medial temporal lobe; FG, fusiform gyrus; vTP, ventral temporal pole; vlSt, ventrolateral striatum; vmSt, ventromedial striatum. (For interpretation of the references to color in this figure, the reader is referred to the web version of this article.)

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