Functional Heterogeneity and Convergence in the Right Temporoparietal Junction

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The right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ) is engaged by tasks that manipulate biological motion processing, Theory of Mind attributions, and attention reorienting. The proximity of activations elicited by these tasks raises the question of whether these tasks share common cognitive component processes that are subserved by common neural substrates. Here, we used high-resolution whole-brain functional magnetic resonance imaging in a within-subjects design to determine whether these tasks activate common regions of the rTPJ. Each participant was presented with the 3 tasks in the same imaging session. In a whole-brain analysis, we found that only the right and left TPJs were activated by all 3 tasks. Multivoxel pattern analysis revealed that the regions of overlap could still discriminate the 3 tasks. Notably, we found significant cross-task classification in the right TPJ, which suggests a shared neural process between the 3 tasks. Taken together, these results support prior studies that have indicated functional heterogeneity within the rTPJ but also suggest a convergence of function within a region of overlap. These results also call for further investigation into the nature of the function subserved in this overlap region.

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