The evolution of the temporoparietal junction and posterior superior temporal sulcus

Gaurav H. Patel, C. Sestieri, Maurizio Corbetta

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations

Abstract

The scale at which humans can handle complex social situations is massively increased compared to other animals. However, the neural substrates of this scaling remain poorly understood. In this review, we discuss how the expansion and rearrangement of the temporoparietal junction and posterior superior temporal sulcus (TPJ-pSTS) may have played a key role in the growth of human social abilities. Comparing the function and anatomy of the TPJ-pSTS in humans and macaques, which are thought to be separated by 25 million years of evolution, we find that the expansion of this region in humans has shifted the architecture of the dorsal and ventral processing streams. The TPJ-pSTS contains areas related to face-emotion processing, attention, theory of mind operations, and memory; its expansion has allowed for the elaboration and rearrangement of the cortical areas contained within, and potentially the introduction of new cortical areas. Based on the arrangement and the function of these areas in the human, we propose that the TPJ-pSTS is the basis of a third frontoparietal processing stream that underlies the increased social abilities in humans. We then describe a model of how the TPJ-pSTS areas interact as a hub that coordinates the activities of multiple brain networks in the exploration of the complex dynamic social scenes typical of the human social experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-50
Number of pages13
JournalCortex
Volume118
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2019

Keywords

  • Default mode network
  • Dorsal attention network
  • Face-emotion processing
  • Theory of mind
  • Ventral attention network
  • fMRI

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