We would like to invite you to the next ANaP lab colloquium by Raymundo Baez (German Primate Center) on Wednesday (Nov. 30) at 16:15. Please find the title, abstract and information about the venue below.
Title: Prefrontal Mechanisms for Group Behavior.
Abstract: As a group-living species, our actions and that of others affect each other’s fitness, for example, by reciprocating an action or by conforming to the group’s choices. Furthermore, the ability to predict and make sense of other’s actions, or Theory of Mind, plays a fundamental role in our social interactions. Notwithstanding the importance of group behavior and theory of mind to individual fitness, their neuronal mechanisms remain unexplored. To start addressing this gap, we performed a series of studies in different group-living species. Our unique multi-species approach allows capitalizing on the unique advantages that different species confer to study the neuronal mechanisms of social cognition. In one study, a group of mice foraged for food while we surreptitiously introduced confederate mice to induce bias in the focal mouse away or towards a food patch. In a second, a triad of macaques performed a structured reciprocity-based social task in which individuals offered a food reward to one of the other two. Finally, humans performed the canonical false belief task in a verbal format. We recorded neuronal activity from the PFC during task performance in all species. Neurons in the dmPFC of foraging mice encoded features that defined the groups’ behavior, including chosen direction, consensus, and bias. At the same time, other neurons reflected the recorded animal’s behavior. Together, these populations predicted the recorded animal’s conformity to the group. Monkeys preferred to give reward to individuals that reciprocated. Distinct subpopulations of dmPFC neurons reflected both the actor and reward recipient’s identity in the current and previous trial. Moreover, using a decoding approach and electrical stimulation showed that dmPFC activity can predict the animal’s upcoming decisions. Finally, we identified single neurons in the human dmPFC that encode information about others’ beliefs, distinguish between self and other-beliefs, and predict whether these beliefs are true or false. These findings reveal that neurons in the prefrontal cortex play a role in representing what others might think and do during social interactions and how the self decides to act accordingly. Together, these studies highlight the prefrontal cortex’s role in social interactions, the advantages of a multi-species approach, and lay the groundwork for studying the neuronal mechanisms of social cognition.
Venue: GEMI, seminar room 1.136
We are looking forward to seeing you at our colloquium. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.