Developmental trajectories of social signal processing

Ross, Paddy (2015) Developmental trajectories of social signal processing. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Most of the social cognitive and affective neuroscience in the past 3 decades has focussed on the face. By contrast, the understanding of processing social cues from the body and voice have been somewhat neglected in the literature. One could argue that, from an evolutionary point of view, body recognition (and particularly emotional body perception) is more important than that of the face. It may be beneficial for survival to be able to predict another’s behaviour or emotional state from a distance, without having to rely on facial expressions.
If there are relatively few cognitive and affective neuroscience studies of body and voice perception, there are even fewer on the development of these processes. In this thesis, we set out to explore the behavioural and functional developmental trajectories of body and voice processing in children, adolescents and adults using fMRI, behavioural measures, and a wide range of univariate and multivariate analytical techniques.
We found, using simultaneously recorded point-light and full-light displays of affective body movements, an increase in emotion recognition ability until 8.5 years old, followed by a slower rate of accuracy improvement through adolescence into adulthood (Chapter 2). Using fMRI we show, for the first time, that the body-selective areas of the visual cortex are not yet ‘adult-like’ in children (Chapter 3). We go on to show in Chapter 4, that although the body- selective regions are still maturing in the second decade of life, there is no difference between children, adolescents and adults in the amount of emotion modulation that these regions exhibit when presented with happy or angry bodies. We also show a positive correlation between amygdala activation and amount of emotion modulation of the body-selective areas in all subjects except the adolescents. Finally, we turn our attention to the development of the voice- selective areas in the temporal cortex, finding that, contrary to face and body processing, these areas are already ‘adult-like’ in children in terms of strength and extent of activation (Chapter 5).
These results are discussed in relation to current developmental literature, limitations are considered, direction for future research is given and the wider clinical application of this work is explored.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Developmental fMRI, body-selective brain areas, voice-recognition, children, adolescents, emotion recognition
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Science and Engineering > School of Psychology
Supervisor's Name: Grosbras, Dr. Marie-Helene
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Dr Paddy Ross
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6271
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2015 15:18
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2015 15:35

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