Neural Substrates of Social Perception

Ralph Adolphs and Elina Birmingham

in Oxford Handbook of Face Perception

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199559053
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Neural Substrates of Social Perception

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A central source of socially meaningful signals is the face, which can be visually analyzed to understand a person's emotions, intentions, beliefs, and desires, along with information about that person's social status, approachability, age, and gender. This article reviews the neural basis of the perception of such signals in humans, focusing on facial expression and gaze, and touching on lesser-studied signals such as pupil dilation and blushing. It discusses the involvement of structures such as the insula, orbitofrontal cortex, amygdala, and superior temporal gyrus, which are studied in some detail with respect to how they process social stimuli. It reveals that social perception also involves information from other modalities and depends on the context in which signals occur.

Keywords: facial expression; social stimuli; neural basis; gaze; social perception

Article.  11390 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology

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