Converging evidence that left extrastriate body area supports visual sensitivity to social interactions

Marco Gandolfo* (Lead Author), Etienne Abassi, Eva Balgova, Paul E. Downing, Liuba Papeo, Kami Koldewyn*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Navigating our complex social world requires processing the interactions we observe. Recent psychophysical and neuroimaging studies provide parallel evidence that the human visual system may be attuned to efficiently perceive dyadic interactions. This work implies, but has not yet demonstrated, that activity in body-selective cortical regions causally supports efficient visual perception of interactions. We adopt a multi-method approach to close this important gap. First, using a large fMRI dataset (n = 92), we found that the left hemisphere extrastriate body area (EBA) responds more to face-to-face than non-facing dyads. Second, we replicated a behavioral marker of visual sensitivity to interactions: categorization of facing dyads is more impaired by inversion than non-facing dyads. Third, in a pre-registered experiment, we used fMRI-guided transcranial magnetic stimulation to show that online stimulation of the left EBA, but not a nearby control region, abolishes this selective inversion effect. Activity in left EBA, thus, causally supports the efficient perception of social interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-351.e5
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2024


  • Brain Mapping
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Social Interaction
  • Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
  • Visual Cortex/physiology
  • Visual Perception/physiology
  • visual perception
  • fMRI guided TMS
  • inversion effect
  • occipitotemporal cortex
  • transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • body perception
  • social perception
  • brain stimulation
  • extrastriate body area
  • Social interaction


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