Social Neuroscience: Key Readings

Social Neuroscience: Key Readings

Social Neuroscience: Key Readings

Social Neuroscience: Key Readings

Synopsis

Neuroscientists and cognitive scientists have collaborated for more than a decade with the common goal of understanding how the mind works. These collaborations have helped unravel puzzles of the mind including aspects of perception, imagery, attention and memory. Many aspects of the mind, however, require a more comprehensive approach to reveal the mystery of mind-brain connections. Attraction, altruism, speech recognition, affiliation, attachment, attitudes, identification, kin recognition, cooperation, competition, empathy, sexuality, communication, dominance, persuasion, obedience, morality, contagion, nurturance, violence, and person memory are just a few. Through classic and contemporary articles and reviews, Social Neuroscience illustrates the complementary nature of social, cognitive, and biological levels of analysis and how research integrating these levels can foster more comprehensive theories of the mechanisms underlying complex behaviour and the mind.

Excerpt

Neuroscientists and cognitive scientists have collaborated for more than a decade with the common goal of understanding how the mind works. These collaborations have helped unravel puzzles of the mind including aspects of perception, imagery, attention, and memory. Many aspects of the mind, however, require a more comprehensive approach to reveal the mystery of mind-brain connections. The topics of attraction, altruism, aggression, affiliation, attachment, and attitudes represent a small sampler from the top of the alphabet alone. Social neuroscience, therefore, has emerged to address fundamental questions about the mind and its dynamic interactions with the biological systems of the brain and body and the social world in which it resides. It is concerned with the relationship between neural and social processes, including the intervening information processing components and operations at both the neural and the computational levels of analysis. As such, work in social neuroscience builds on work in the neurosciences, cognitive sciences, and social sciences. The premise underlying this book is that more complex aspects of the mind and behavior will benefit from yet a broader collaboration of neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, and social scientists.

The field of social neuroscience encompasses studies ranging from social cognition, motivation, and emotion to interpersonal and group processes, and to social influences on health and mortality. One is as likely to find relevant animal and computational models as human studies, and the methodologies-which support measurements ranging from the gene to cultures-are even more diverse. Attempting to canvas the full scope of social neuroscience would deprive the reader of the rich depth and coherence that can come from multilevel analyses of some of the most fascinating questions humanity has asked about itself and the human mind. We, therefore, limited our scope to human studies of a single question in one area-“Is there anything special about social” cognition ?”-although we also included several studies of brain lesions where appropriate.

The readings are organized to reveal a series of facets of what might be special about social information processing. Following an overview, readings in the next three sections show that the brain determines social behavior, that there are dissociable systems in the brain for social and nonsocial information processing, and that there may be dissociable systems in the brain for face and object processing. In the next two sections, readings demonstrate that there are dissociable systems in the brain for the perception of biological and nonbiological movement, and that the perception of biological movement can automatically elicit imitation (mimicry) and empathy. Readings in the next three sections address possible means by which the brain constructs

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