Neuroscience

At the center of our own spatial social network

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Science  31 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6247, pp. 491-492
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6247.491-c

Neurons in the hippocampus create a maplike representation of the environment, forming what is called spatial memory. Tavares et al. suggest that humans also create a 3D map of social space with themselves at the center. They measured the representation of a map of social interactions based on a role-playing game where participants could interact with fictional characters along power (dominance, hierarchy, etc.) and affiliation (intimacy, trustworthiness, etc.) gradients, while placed in an fMRI scanner. Left hippocampal activity correlated with the angle of a vector created by these two measures, but not by either of them alone, while the strength of correlation also depended on the social skills and personality traits like neuroticism and conscientiousness of the individual.

Neuron 87, 23110.1016/j.neuron.2015.06.011 (2015).

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