Brain systems of social perception and cognition
Greg McCarthy's research program is broadly concerned with the functional organization of the human brain seeking to identify and characterize functional brain processes and to determine how these processes are evident in psychological phenomena. McCarthy is also interested in how these functional brain processes and their anatomical substrates are altered in pathological states. A current and enduring theme of his research is social perception and cognition. Of particular interest is the manner in which information about the superficial features of animate entities (such as faces and bodies) and information about motion trajectories contribute to inferences about the goals and intentions of social agents. With respect to the brain, these studies have focused on two regions: 1) ventral occipitotemporal cortex, an area generally associated with the perception of visual categories, including faces and bodies, and 2) lateral occipitotemporal cortex, an area associated with biological motion. Another research theme is the neuroscience of executive processing and working memory. Interests also include how task-irrelevant stressors influence functional connectivity between the amygdala, inferior frontal gyrus, and ventromedial prefrontal cortex when subjects are engaged in demanding primary tasks such as working memory or maze finding. Methods include neuroimaging (functional and structural MRI and diffusion tensor imaging), EEG and ERP from scalp recordings in healthy volunteers, intracranial EEG recording and direct cortical stimulation in patients, eye tracking, and behavioral measures.