Scales matter: Brain processing of multiple scales in space, time and social networks


February 12, 2020 - 12:00pm
Northwest Building 243
About the Speaker
Shahar Arzy
Speaker Title: 
Speaker Affiliation: 
Hebrew University

Daily life happens in space (places visited), time (events experienced) and with conspecifics (social networks). While in real life these three domains encompass multiple scales, from room to continents, milliseconds to life-time, and closest group-members to socially distant individuals, they are explored usually in the smaller scales, available within our lab settings. In this talk we will first ask whether different scales are represented by the same or different brain systems? I will present fMRI data in humans showing that the brain is scale selective, and increasing scales are represented on cortical gradients directed from concrete (visual cortex) to abstract (default network) cortices. But life also takes place in different scales simultaneously (e.g. room and country, minute and month, close-friends and colleagues). I will show how multiple scales follow grid-code in the entorhinal cortex. Finally, scales are inherently hierarchical and structured (cities in another country, friends of a friend). Combined analysis of Facebook data of thousands of individuals together with fMRI data suggests this information to be coded in the retrosplenial complex, a region implicated in spatial processing, while their reference to the subject and personal information are found in other parts of the default network. Taken together, the talk will emphasize the importance of ecolgically-valid scales in the exploration of spatial, temporal and social cognition.