The interplay between social motivation, social experience, and developmental neural specialization for social perception
Anderson, Laura Christine
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From birth, infants preferentially attend to human motion, which allows them to learn to interpret other peoples’ facial expressions and mental states. Evidence from adults shows that selectivity of the amygdala and the posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) to biological motion correlates with social network size. Social motivation—one’s desire to orient to the social world, to seek and find reward in social interaction, and to maintain social relationships—may also contribute to neural specialization for biological motion and to social network characteristics. The current study aimed to determine whether neural selectivity for biological motion relates to social network characteristics, and to gain preliminary evidence as to whether social motivation plays a role in this relation. Findings suggest that neural selectivity for biological motion in the pSTS is positively related to social network size in middle childhood and that this relation is moderated by social motivation.