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Body language in the brain: constructing meaning from expressive movement.

Tipper CM, Signorini G, Grafton ST - Front Hum Neurosci (2015)

Bottom Line: A repetition suppression (RS) procedure was used to identify brain regions that decoded the meaningful affective state of a performer, as evidenced by decreased activity when emotive themes were repeated in successive performances.RS was observed bilaterally, extending anteriorly along middle and superior temporal gyri into temporal pole, medially into insula, rostrally into inferior orbitofrontal cortex, and caudally into hippocampus and amygdala.There was greater RS in left hemisphere, suggesting that the more abstract metaphors used to express themes in dance compared to pantomime posed a greater challenge to brain substrates directly involved in decoding those themes.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia Vancouver, BC, Canada ; Mental Health and Integrated Neurobehavioral Development Research Core, Child and Family Research Institute Vancouver, BC, Canada.

ABSTRACT
This fMRI study investigated neural systems that interpret body language-the meaningful emotive expressions conveyed by body movement. Participants watched videos of performers engaged in modern dance or pantomime that conveyed specific themes such as hope, agony, lust, or exhaustion. We tested whether the meaning of an affectively laden performance was decoded in localized brain substrates as a distinct property of action separable from other superficial features, such as choreography, kinematics, performer, and low-level visual stimuli. A repetition suppression (RS) procedure was used to identify brain regions that decoded the meaningful affective state of a performer, as evidenced by decreased activity when emotive themes were repeated in successive performances. Because the theme was the only feature repeated across video clips that were otherwise entirely different, the occurrence of RS identified brain substrates that differentially coded the specific meaning of expressive performances. RS was observed bilaterally, extending anteriorly along middle and superior temporal gyri into temporal pole, medially into insula, rostrally into inferior orbitofrontal cortex, and caudally into hippocampus and amygdala. Behavioral data on a separate task indicated that interpreting themes from modern dance was more difficult than interpreting pantomime; a result that was also reflected in the fMRI data. There was greater RS in left hemisphere, suggesting that the more abstract metaphors used to express themes in dance compared to pantomime posed a greater challenge to brain substrates directly involved in decoding those themes. We propose that the meaning-sensitive temporal-orbitofrontal regions observed here comprise a superordinate functional module of a known hierarchical action observation network (AON), which is critical to the construction of meaning from expressive movement. The findings are discussed with respect to a predictive coding model of action understanding.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Manipulating trial sequence to induce RS in brain regions that decode body language. The order of video presentation was controlled such that themes depicted in consecutive videos were either novel or repeated. Each consecutive video clip was unique; repeated themes were always portrayed by different dancers, different camera angles, or both. Thus, RS for repeated themes was not the result of low-level visual features, but rather identified brain areas that were sensitive to the specific meaningful theme conveyed by a performance. In brain regions showing RS, a particular affective theme—hope, for example—will evoke a particular pattern of neural activity. A novel theme on the subsequent trial—illness, for instance—will trigger a different but equally strong pattern of neural activity in distinct cell assemblies, resulting in an equivalent BOLD response. In contrast, a repetition of the hopefulness theme on the subsequent trial will trigger activity in the same neural assemblies as the first trial, but to a lesser extent, resulting in a reduced BOLD response for repeated themes. In this way, regions showing RS reveal regions that support distinct patterns of neural activity in response to different themes.
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Figure 1: Manipulating trial sequence to induce RS in brain regions that decode body language. The order of video presentation was controlled such that themes depicted in consecutive videos were either novel or repeated. Each consecutive video clip was unique; repeated themes were always portrayed by different dancers, different camera angles, or both. Thus, RS for repeated themes was not the result of low-level visual features, but rather identified brain areas that were sensitive to the specific meaningful theme conveyed by a performance. In brain regions showing RS, a particular affective theme—hope, for example—will evoke a particular pattern of neural activity. A novel theme on the subsequent trial—illness, for instance—will trigger a different but equally strong pattern of neural activity in distinct cell assemblies, resulting in an equivalent BOLD response. In contrast, a repetition of the hopefulness theme on the subsequent trial will trigger activity in the same neural assemblies as the first trial, but to a lesser extent, resulting in a reduced BOLD response for repeated themes. In this way, regions showing RS reveal regions that support distinct patterns of neural activity in response to different themes.

Mentions: Working with a group of professional dancers, we produced a set of video clips in which performers intentionally expressed a particular meaningful theme either through dance or pantomime. Typical themes consisted of expressions of hope, agony, lust, or exhaustion. The experimental manipulation of theme was studied independently of choreography, performer, or camera viewpoint, which allowed us to repeat the meaning of a movement sequence from one trial to another while varying physical movement characteristics and perceptual features. With this RS-fMRI design, a decrease in BOLD activity for repeated relative to novel themes (RS) could not be attributed to specific movements, characteristics of the performer, “low-level” visual features, or the general process of attending to body expressions. Rather, RS revealed brain areas in which specific voxel-wise neural population codes differentiated meaningful expressions based on body movement (Figure 1).


Body language in the brain: constructing meaning from expressive movement.

Tipper CM, Signorini G, Grafton ST - Front Hum Neurosci (2015)

Manipulating trial sequence to induce RS in brain regions that decode body language. The order of video presentation was controlled such that themes depicted in consecutive videos were either novel or repeated. Each consecutive video clip was unique; repeated themes were always portrayed by different dancers, different camera angles, or both. Thus, RS for repeated themes was not the result of low-level visual features, but rather identified brain areas that were sensitive to the specific meaningful theme conveyed by a performance. In brain regions showing RS, a particular affective theme—hope, for example—will evoke a particular pattern of neural activity. A novel theme on the subsequent trial—illness, for instance—will trigger a different but equally strong pattern of neural activity in distinct cell assemblies, resulting in an equivalent BOLD response. In contrast, a repetition of the hopefulness theme on the subsequent trial will trigger activity in the same neural assemblies as the first trial, but to a lesser extent, resulting in a reduced BOLD response for repeated themes. In this way, regions showing RS reveal regions that support distinct patterns of neural activity in response to different themes.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4543892&req=5

Figure 1: Manipulating trial sequence to induce RS in brain regions that decode body language. The order of video presentation was controlled such that themes depicted in consecutive videos were either novel or repeated. Each consecutive video clip was unique; repeated themes were always portrayed by different dancers, different camera angles, or both. Thus, RS for repeated themes was not the result of low-level visual features, but rather identified brain areas that were sensitive to the specific meaningful theme conveyed by a performance. In brain regions showing RS, a particular affective theme—hope, for example—will evoke a particular pattern of neural activity. A novel theme on the subsequent trial—illness, for instance—will trigger a different but equally strong pattern of neural activity in distinct cell assemblies, resulting in an equivalent BOLD response. In contrast, a repetition of the hopefulness theme on the subsequent trial will trigger activity in the same neural assemblies as the first trial, but to a lesser extent, resulting in a reduced BOLD response for repeated themes. In this way, regions showing RS reveal regions that support distinct patterns of neural activity in response to different themes.
Mentions: Working with a group of professional dancers, we produced a set of video clips in which performers intentionally expressed a particular meaningful theme either through dance or pantomime. Typical themes consisted of expressions of hope, agony, lust, or exhaustion. The experimental manipulation of theme was studied independently of choreography, performer, or camera viewpoint, which allowed us to repeat the meaning of a movement sequence from one trial to another while varying physical movement characteristics and perceptual features. With this RS-fMRI design, a decrease in BOLD activity for repeated relative to novel themes (RS) could not be attributed to specific movements, characteristics of the performer, “low-level” visual features, or the general process of attending to body expressions. Rather, RS revealed brain areas in which specific voxel-wise neural population codes differentiated meaningful expressions based on body movement (Figure 1).

Bottom Line: A repetition suppression (RS) procedure was used to identify brain regions that decoded the meaningful affective state of a performer, as evidenced by decreased activity when emotive themes were repeated in successive performances.RS was observed bilaterally, extending anteriorly along middle and superior temporal gyri into temporal pole, medially into insula, rostrally into inferior orbitofrontal cortex, and caudally into hippocampus and amygdala.There was greater RS in left hemisphere, suggesting that the more abstract metaphors used to express themes in dance compared to pantomime posed a greater challenge to brain substrates directly involved in decoding those themes.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia Vancouver, BC, Canada ; Mental Health and Integrated Neurobehavioral Development Research Core, Child and Family Research Institute Vancouver, BC, Canada.

ABSTRACT
This fMRI study investigated neural systems that interpret body language-the meaningful emotive expressions conveyed by body movement. Participants watched videos of performers engaged in modern dance or pantomime that conveyed specific themes such as hope, agony, lust, or exhaustion. We tested whether the meaning of an affectively laden performance was decoded in localized brain substrates as a distinct property of action separable from other superficial features, such as choreography, kinematics, performer, and low-level visual stimuli. A repetition suppression (RS) procedure was used to identify brain regions that decoded the meaningful affective state of a performer, as evidenced by decreased activity when emotive themes were repeated in successive performances. Because the theme was the only feature repeated across video clips that were otherwise entirely different, the occurrence of RS identified brain substrates that differentially coded the specific meaning of expressive performances. RS was observed bilaterally, extending anteriorly along middle and superior temporal gyri into temporal pole, medially into insula, rostrally into inferior orbitofrontal cortex, and caudally into hippocampus and amygdala. Behavioral data on a separate task indicated that interpreting themes from modern dance was more difficult than interpreting pantomime; a result that was also reflected in the fMRI data. There was greater RS in left hemisphere, suggesting that the more abstract metaphors used to express themes in dance compared to pantomime posed a greater challenge to brain substrates directly involved in decoding those themes. We propose that the meaning-sensitive temporal-orbitofrontal regions observed here comprise a superordinate functional module of a known hierarchical action observation network (AON), which is critical to the construction of meaning from expressive movement. The findings are discussed with respect to a predictive coding model of action understanding.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus