Biological Motion Feedback As Rewarding Stimuli To The Brain A novel fMRI study on biological motion

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Human social motivation is characterized by the pursuit of social reward and the avoidance of social punishment. However, most previous studies have focused on using human faces as social stimuli and little is known about responses of the different populations to other types of social stimuli, such as biologial motion. Biological motion is defined as the visual perception and integration of movement associated with human/animal movement and provides rich information about the identity of an agent as well as the actions and intentions conveyed in the way an agent moves. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether typically developing individuals also assign a high value to positive/negative motion stimuli as feedback as they do with faces and whether the preference for this type of social stimuli is also linked to autistic traits. Thus, we conducted an event-related functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiment using a social incentive delay task with dynamic video stimuli of body motion alone (masked faces) as social incentive feedback in order to examine participants' motivation for social reward gain and social punishment avoidance. The anticipation phase analysis revealed significant activation of the right thalamus during the avoidance of punishment condition, showing a greater activation when comparing negative biological motion feedback to negative text feedback. Moreover, we found significant activation of brain areas linked to specific processing of biological motion in all the other condition as well as in the outcome phase. Taken together, these results might provide initial evidence of biological motion feedback possibly being more rewarding to the brain than text feedback.
Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen