Decoded: How brain perceives social threat interactions

Tokyo, Oct 3 (IANS) In a first, scientists have recorded a glimpse of the brain remembering and recalling the memory of negative social interactions.

This answers the long-standing question of whether the memory of an observed social encounter can be formed and recalled via the same neural pathway.

Using large-scale neural recording and big data analysis in monkeys, the team observed whether the memory of an observed social encounter can be formed and recalled via the same neural pathway.

The research reveals the complex structure of a neural network for the observation of a negative social interaction and its retrieval from memory.

The team led by Naotaka Fujii and colleagues at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan analysed a monkey’s brain to record electrical activity while the subject watched videos of one monkey threatening another.

The findings revealed a rich dynamic flow of information in the brain network at unprecedented resolution.

One module encoded the formation of a memory of the observed social interaction revealing a flow of information from sensory perception areas to higher brain structures.

“The results open a window into the structure of brain networks for cognitive processes such as observing the behaviour of others,” the authors noted.

The findings also have implications for the mapping of brain activity by large federal brain projects including the US BRAIN initiative and EU Human Brain Project.

“Such technologies that measure brain activity should aim to monitor not only large populations of neurons but also their network communication structures,” the authors noted.

The paper was published in the journal eLife.

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