Behavioral and Neural Adaptation in Approach Behavior

J Cogn Neurosci. 2018 Jun;30(6):885-897. doi: 10.1162/jocn_a_01243. Epub 2018 Feb 2.


People often make approachability decisions based on perceived facial trustworthiness. However, it remains unclear how people learn trustworthiness from a population of faces and whether this learning influences their approachability decisions. Here we investigated the neural underpinning of approach behavior and tested two important hypotheses: whether the amygdala adapts to different trustworthiness ranges and whether the amygdala is modulated by task instructions and evaluative goals. We showed that participants adapted to the stimulus range of perceived trustworthiness when making approach decisions and that these decisions were further modulated by the social context. The right amygdala showed both linear response and quadratic response to trustworthiness level, as observed in prior studies. Notably, the amygdala's response to trustworthiness was not modulated by stimulus range or social context, a possible neural dynamic adaptation. Together, our data have revealed a robust behavioral adaptation to different trustworthiness ranges as well as a neural substrate underlying approach behavior based on perceived facial trustworthiness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Choice Behavior*
  • Facial Expression
  • Facial Recognition / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Judgment
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Reaction Time
  • Social Perception*
  • Trust*
  • Young Adult