Abstract - Rigon

Individual differences in social synchronization: a functional connectivity study

Abstract: Facial mimicry (FM), the ability to match the emotional expression displayed on an observed face in an instantaneous and automatic way, has been identified as an integral part of both emotion recognition and emotional contagion and is considered critical for successful social interaction. Impairments in FM are the hallmark of a multitude of invasive conditions, such as autism, borderline personality disorder, depression, conduct disorders and traumatic brain injury. The aim of our study is to characterize the brain systems that support the capacity for FM by exploring the correlation between inter-individual differences in a behavioral FM task and in the strength of the intrinsic functional connectivity networks important for salience processing. We will collect rsfMRI and facial EMG during two separate sessions on the same day on a sample of healthy participants (N=21). We expect that our analyses will reveal that participants who show higher FM will also display stronger patterns of connectivity between areas previously identified as important for encoding others' intentions and emotions and translating them into actions, such as regions of the Action Observation Network. The study will pioneer a new interdisciplinary methodology that will further our knowledge of the neurophysiological bases of FM, thus holding the potential to aid in improving the prediction, assessment and treatment of social conduct disorders. (Arianna Rigon collaborating with Melissa Duff and Michelle Voss).