Neural systems underlying RDoC social constructs: An activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis

Pintos Lobo R, Bottenhorn KL, Riedel MC, Toma AI, Hare MM, Smith DD, Moor AC, Cowan IK, Valdes JA, Bartley JE, Salo T, Boeving ER, Pankey B, Sutherland MT, Musser ED, Laird AR, Neurosci Biobehav Rev 144 :104971 (2023).


Neuroscientists have sought to identify the underlying neural systems supporting social processing that allow interaction and communication, forming social relationships, and navigating the social world. Through the use of NIMH’s Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) framework, we evaluated consensus among studies that examined brain activity during social tasks to elucidate regions comprising the “social brain”. We examined convergence across tasks corresponding to the four RDoC social constructs, including Affiliation and Attachment, Social Communication, Perception and Understanding of Self, and Perception and Understanding of Others. We performed a series of coordinate-based meta-analyses using the activation likelihood estimate (ALE) method. Meta-analysis was performed on whole-brain coordinates reported from 864 fMRI contrasts using the NiMARE Python package, revealing convergence in medial prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, temporoparietal junction, bilateral insula, amygdala, fusiform gyrus, precuneus, and thalamus. Additionally, four separate RDoC-based meta-analyses revealed differential convergence associated with the four social constructs. These outcomes highlight the neural support underlying these social constructs and inform future research on alterations among neurotypical and atypical populations.