Across a wide variety of domains, experts differ from novices in their response to stimuli linked to their respective field of expertise. It is currently unknown whether similar patterns can be observed with regard to social expertise. The current study therefore focuses on social openness, a central social skill necessary to initiate social contact. Human body odors were used as social cues, as they inherently signal the presence of another human being. Using functional MRI, hemodynamic brain responses to body odors of women reporting a high (n = 14) or a low (n = 12) level of social openness were compared. Greater activation within the inferior frontal gyrus and the caudate nucleus was observed in high socially open individuals compared to individuals low in social openness. With the inferior frontal gyrus being a crucial part of the human mirror neuron system, and the caudate nucleus being implicated in social reward, it is discussed whether human body odor might constitute more of a significant and rewarding social signal to individuals high in social openness compared to individuals low in social openness process.
Lübke, K. T., Croy, I., Hoenen, M., Gerber, J., Pause, B. M., & Hummel, T. (2014). Does human body odor represent a significant and rewarding social signal to individuals high in social openness? PLoS ONE, 9(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0094314