Differential roles of amygdala and posterior superior temporal sulcus in social scene understanding

Kentaro Oba, Motoaki Sugiura, Sugiko Hanawa, Mizue Suzuki, Hyeonjeong Jeong, Yuka Kotozaki, Yukako Sasaki, Tatsuo Kikuchi, Takayuki Nozawa, Seishu Nakagawa, Ryuta Kawashima

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Neuropsychology and neuroimaging studies provide distinct views on the key neural underpinnings of social scene understanding (SSU): the amygdala and multimodal neocortical areas such as the posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS), respectively. This apparent incongruity may stem from the difference in the assumed cognitive processes of the situation-response association and the integrative or creative processing of social information. To examine the neural correlates of different SSU types using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we devised a clothing recommendation task in three types of client’s standpoint. Situation-response association was induced by a situation-congruent standpoint (ecological SSU), whereas the integrative and creative processing of social information was elicited by a lack and situation incongruence of the standpoint (perceptual and elaborative SSUs, respectively). Activation characteristic of the ecological SSU was identified in the right amygdala, while that of the perceptual SSU and elaborative SSU demand was identified in the right pSTS and left middle temporal gyrus (MTG), respectively. Thus, the current results provide evidence for the conceptual and neural distinction of the three types of SSU, with basic ecological SSU being supported by a limbic structure while sophisticated integrative or creative SSUs being developed in humans by multimodal association cortices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)516-529
Number of pages14
JournalSocial Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • amygdala
  • associative memory
  • fMRI
  • middle temporal gyrus
  • posterior superior temporal sulcus
  • Social scene understanding


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