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Examining the value of body gestures in social reward contexts

Williams, E. H., Bilbao-Broch, L., Downing, P. E. and Cross, E. S. (2020) Examining the value of body gestures in social reward contexts. NeuroImage, 222. 117276. ISSN 1053-8119

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2020.117276


Brain regions associated with the processing of tangible rewards (such as money, food, or sex) are also involved in anticipating social rewards and avoiding social punishment. To date, studies investigating the neural underpinnings of social reward have presented feedback via static or dynamic displays of faces to participants. However, research demonstrates that participants find another type of social stimulus, namely, biological motion, rewarding as well, and exert effort to engage with this type of stimulus. Here we examine whether feedback presented via body gestures in the absence of facial cues also acts as a rewarding stimulus and recruits reward-related brain regions. To achieve this, we investigated the neural underpinnings of anticipating social reward and avoiding social disapproval presented via gestures alone, using a social incentive delay task. As predicted, the anticipation of social reward and avoidance of social disapproval engaged reward-related brain regions, including the nucleus accumbens, in a manner similar to previous studies' reports of feedback presented via faces and money. This study provides the first evidence that human body motion alone engages brain regions associated with reward processing in a similar manner to other social (i.e. faces) and non-social (i.e. money) rewards. The findings advance our understanding of social motivation in human perception and behavior.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
ID Code:92621
Uncontrolled Keywords:Biological motion, Body gestures, Reward anticipation, Reward value, Social motivation


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