Asymmetries of the human social brain in the visual, auditory and chemical modalities

Alfredo Brancucci, Giuliana Lucci, Andrea Mazzatenta, Luca Tommasi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Structural and functional asymmetries are present in many regions of the human brain responsible for motor control, sensory and cognitive functions and communication. Here, we focus on hemispheric asymmetries underlying the domain of social perception, broadly conceived as the analysis of information about other individuals based on acoustic, visual and chemical signals. By means of these cues the brain establishes the border between 'self' and 'other', and interprets the surrounding social world in terms of the physical and behavioural characteristics of conspecifics essential for impression formation and for creating bonds and relationships. We show that, considered from the standpoint of single- and multi-modal sensory analysis, the neural substrates of the perception of voices, faces, gestures, smells and pheromones, as evidenced by modern neuroimaging techniques, are characterized by a general pattern of right-hemispheric functional asymmetry that might benefit from other aspects of hemispheric lateralization rather than constituting a true specialization for social information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)895-914
Number of pages20
JournalPhilosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B: Biological sciences
Issue number1519
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • Brain hemispheres
  • Hemispheric asymmetries
  • Lateralization
  • Social neuroscience
  • Social perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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