Task modulation of single-neuron activity in the human amygdala and hippocampus

Runnan Cao, Alexander Todorov, Nicholas Brandmeir, Shuo Wang
2021 eNeuro  
The human amygdala and hippocampus are critically involved in various processes in face perception. However, it remains unclear how task demands or evaluative contexts modulate processes underlying face perception. In this study, we employed two task instructions when participants viewed the same faces and recorded single-neuron activity from the human amygdala and hippocampus. We comprehensively analyzed task modulation for three key aspects of face processing and we found that neurons in the
more » ... mygdala and hippocampus (1) encoded high-level social traits such as perceived facial trustworthiness and dominance and this response was modulated by task instructions; (2) encoded low-level facial features and demonstrated region-based feature coding, which was not modulated by task instructions; and (3) encoded fixations on salient face parts such as the eyes and mouth, which was not modulated by task instructions. Together, our results provide a comprehensive survey of task modulation of neural processes underlying face perception at the single-neuron level in the human amygdala and hippocampus.Significance StatementThe human amygdala and hippocampus play important roles in face perception, but it remains unclear how task demands or evaluative contexts modulate neural face processing, especially at the single-neuron level in the human brain. In this study, we comprehensively analyzed how task instruction modulates key aspects of face processing, including low-level facial features such as face shape and texture, social trait judgment of faces such as trustworthiness and dominance, as well as neural correlates of eye movement when viewing faces. Our comprehensive survey of task modulation of face processing reveals both flexible and invariant neuronal processes in the human brain.
doi:10.1523/eneuro.0398-21.2021 pmid:34933946 pmcid:PMC8805196 fatcat:qikbfc4q3jhuxfqfvggac4r3c4