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Assessing the Role of Brain Signal Entropy in Driving the Social-Perceptual Effects of Oxytocin

Presenters Name: 
Diogo Fortes
Co Presenters Name: 
Primary Research Mentor: 
Jessica Connelly
Secondary Research Mentor: 
9:30 - 10:15
Time of Presentation: 
2019 - 9:30am to 10:15am
Newcomb Hall Ballroom
Presentation Type: 
Presentations Academic Category: 
Grant Program Recipient: 
Harrison Undergraduate Research Grant

The neuropeptide oxytocin is thought to regulate social behavior by increasing the salience of social stimuli, with rodent studies correlating its behavioral effects with its ability to balance cortical signal-to-noise ratio. In humans, neural noise has been linked to behavioral and cognitive performance, but its relationship to individual variability in social perception remains unknown. Here, we investigate a role for individual variability in the endogenous oxytocinergic system in driving human social perception by regulating neural noise in response to social stimuli presentation. Participants (n=153) underwent electroencephalography (EEG) while being presented with social and non-social stimuli, in both visual and auditory modalities. Subjects (n=86) provided blood and saliva samples for epigenetic analysis, completed self-report measures of social functioning, and were recorded while interacting with a stranger. Preliminary results (n=12) indicate an effect of modality and social context on the multiscale entropy of EEG signal when averaging across scalp electrodes and subjects. Differences in MSE were significant between social-visual and social-auditory conditions, and between social-auditory and non-social-auditory conditions. Social-visual and non-social-visual differences were very nearly significant, while the non-social conditions showed no difference across modalities. While further analysis is still necessary to yield functional relationships between brain signal entropy and behavioral with behavior and epigenetic measures, preliminary results thus far point to a complex interaction between sensory modality and social context in the multiscale entropy of EEG signal.