Second, as the social cognition field moves away from studying only deliberate, explicit processes to studying also automatic, implicit processes, adopting a dual-process perspective, social neuroscience also lends itself to both automatic and controlled processes. Finally, social neuroscience is especially suited to study the efficiency and spontaneity of social judgments.
All this brings social behavioral grounding to cognitive neuroscience. Among the implications for social neuroscience: Social cognition intrinsically evokes affect, so social cognitive affective neuroscience glues together a variety of fields in psychological and neurosciences. Toward socially inspired social neuroscience.
N2 - Social neuroscience, often viewed as studying the neural foundations of social cognition, has roots in multiple disciplines. AB - Social neuroscience, often viewed as studying the neural foundations of social cognition, has roots in multiple disciplines. Abstract Social neuroscience, often viewed as studying the neural foundations of social cognition, has roots in multiple disciplines.
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Fingerprint Neurosciences. Social Psychology. Cognitive Neuroscience. Brain research , 1 , Todorov, Alexander T. For example, in several studies, the trolley dilemma was used as a tool for differentiating emotionality and reasoning Foot, Developmental Social Neuroscience ; Thomson, Developmental Social Neuroscience. In the trolley dilemma, a trolley is bounding down a train track toward a group of individuals. The individuals are tied to the track and cannot escape. The study participants are asked: should they divert the trolley to a track where there are only two people tied down as opposed to six i.
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This is compared with a situation where the individual is asked if they should push a large man off a bridge in front of the trolley, saving the six but killing the one. In the first, the decision is impersonal, whereas the second involves a personal level of violation. By contrast, impersonal and nonmoral dilemmas compared with personal dilemmas produced increased activity in areas associated with working memory: dorsolateral prefrontal and parietal areas. Our current knowledge of the neural bases of moral judgment also relies on lesion studies e.
Patients with vmPFC damage exhibit increased utilitarian judgments Koenigs et al. It is also reciprocally connected with the amygdala and hypothalamus, and is therefore involved in the autonomic component of emotion and is essential in the evaluation of harmful intent. The integration of neural and psychophysiological level analyses into the study of moral development is more recent. Participants were shown sequences of pictures that depicted either people or objects being injured, intentionally or unintentionally.
Intentionality is a critical aspect in this design because its detection is postulated to be the primary cue in determining whether an action is malicious or not Cushman Developmental Social Neuroscience ; Killen et al. After scanning, they were presented with the same stimuli and were asked to judge whether the action performed by the perpetrator in the video clip was intentional or not. Participants were also asked to respond to a set of questions probing moral judgment wrongness and punishment , empathic concern for the victim, personal distress, and understanding of the perpetrator's mental state.
The more participants reported being personally distressed about harmful actions, the higher the activity in the amygdala. Interesting developmental trends were also examined. For example, age was negatively correlated with empathetic sadness for the victim of harm in the video clips, with the youngest participants exhibiting the greatest personal sadness.
Ratings of sadness for the victim correlated with activity in the insula, thalamus, and subgenual prefrontal cortex. Damage to the subgenual prefrontal cortex is associated with abnormal autonomic responses to emotional experiences and impaired comprehension of the adverse consequences of pernicious social behaviors Bechara et al. Moreover, the BOLD blood oxygenated level dependent signal in older participants increased in the mPFC and vmPFC, regions associated with cognitive representation and decision making that enable us to reflect on the values linked to outcomes and actions.
Social cognitive neuroscience
That study also demonstrated that patterns of functional connectivity between prefrontal cortex and amygdala during the perception of intentional harm relative to accidental harm were different with age. The functional integration between vmPFC and amygdala were observed, such that the older participants showed significant coactivation in these regions during the perception of intentional harm relative to accidental harm, whereas the youngest children only exhibited a significant covariation between the vmPFC and periaqueductal gray.
In another study, 51 healthy male participants aged 13—53 were scanned while viewing international affective picture system IAPS pictures that did or did not depict situations considered to represent moral violations, and were asked to rate the severity of moral violation Harenski et al. Given the role of the pSTS region in mentalizing, and the fact that its underlying neural substrates undergo extensive developmental changes from adolescence to adulthood, the authors hypothesized that adolescents use these types of theory of mind inferences less during moral judgment than do adults.
Overall, findings from affective developmental neuroscience indicate that both affective reactions and cognitive reasoning contribute to moral judgments, yet in many contexts, automatic affective processes dominate. Moral reasoning has been argued to be supported by specific neural circuitry, but in fact these circuits are not necessarily unique to morality Decety et al. Rather, morality involves regions and systems, which underlie various states of feelings, cognitive, and motivational processes.
Most importantly, moral reasoning involves a complex integration between affective and cognitive processes that gradually changes with age and can be viewed in dynamic transaction across the course of ontogenesis. Theory of mind ToM; also called mentalizing is the ability to explain, predict, and interpret behavior by attributing mental states such as desires, beliefs, intentions and emotions to oneself and to other people. One hides an object in A location, then leaves the room. The other individual moves the object from A location to B location. When the first individual comes back to the room, the child is asked where the individual will look for the object.
Infants look longer at instances where the individual who left the room searches in the B location than in the A location. In selective trust experiments, children are shown familiar objects and two speakers label the objects, one does so correctly and the other does so incorrectly. Both speakers then label novel objects for the child, and the child is asked what the object is called. Recently, developmental and social neuroscientists have also investigated theory of mind and social cognition, including the temporal, developmental, and spatial dynamics of neural and electrophysiological activity underlying behavioral performance and developmental transitions between stages of theory of mind.
The event related potential ERP technique examines the exact timing of electrophysiological signals after a particular stimulus is presented; however, in order to perform reliable ERP analyses, many trials are needed e. In one study using an ERP design, the change in location task was modified such that participants adults were shown a number of short stories. Thus, most features of the vignettes were matched, except the belief dimension belief or photo.
The p waveform is oftentimes an index of differential attention allocation, and as such, belief understanding was theorized to depend on additional attention allocation when compared to simply taking a picture with no mentalizing component. Differences in temporal signatures related to ToM understanding, particularly LSW, were also explored in a series of studies with adults and children Bowman et al.
In this study, children and adults who could pass false belief versus children who failed a false belief paradigm showed a modulated LSW over frontal electrodes for belief versus reality, suggesting the necessity of secondary reappraisal and controlled cognitive processing in focusing on the mental states of others. In this study, frontal scalp alpha power density asymmetries were localized to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex dlPFC and the posterior superior temporal sulcus and predicted children's behavioral representational ToM ability.
Additionally, resting state alpha frequency asymmetries predict representational ToM abilities. Thus in order to more accurately examine the spatial aspect of neural activation of social cognition, functional magnetic resonance imaging fMRI has been the primarily utilized method. Several studies have documented the role of areas such as the medial prefrontal cortex mPFC and the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex dlPFC as well as the posterior superior temporal sulcus pSTS e.
The specificity versus generality of regions involved in social cognition and representational understanding remains an outstanding issue. However, given the relative inability to disentangle cognitive aspects of ToM e. This debate is particularly salient when the information from the neural level of analysis with respect to representational understanding is integrated into our conceptions of abnormal development, particularly in populations where intentional and representational understanding are impaired e.
While empathy to most theorists entails feelings of concern for others known as empathic concern, a motivational state aimed at improving another's welfare , the definition also includes the capacity to take the perspective of another to understand her subjective experiences—feelings, desires, beliefs, and intentions.
An additional and crucial component of empathy involves the natural ability to share or become affectively aroused by the emotions of others, referred to as emotional sharing or contagion Decety, Developmental Social Neuroscience.
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While empathic understanding is often considered as relatively specific to humans and perhaps apes , emotional contagion and empathic concern are shared with other primates and mammals and depend on evolutionarily ancient systems for attachment, caregiving, and social communication. These systems rely on subcortical neural pathways connecting the brainstem, hypothalamus, amygdala, basal ganglia and ventromedial prefrontal cortex and hormones Decety, Developmental Social Neuroscience. For instance, rodents exhibit emotional contagion and helping behaviors.
When liberating a cagemate was pitted against chocolate contained within a second restrainer, rats opened both restrainers and typically shared the chocolate. To investigate whether pain behavior can serve the function of soliciting a primitive form of empathic concern, Langford and colleagues Developmental Social Neuroscience used a social approach paradigm to test mice in various dyadic or triadic conditions.
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In this study, some mice were restrained and administered an intraperitoneal injection of acetic acid to incite pain. A similar group of test mice were unrestrained, free to approach or avoid the distressed conspecifics. Interestingly, genetic relatedness alone does not motivate helping as demonstrated by a new study that fostered rats from birth with another strain. Human infants are sensitive to the emotional expressions of others, especially when these expressions are vocalized. This predisposition for sensitivity has been shown in neural approaches to the study of the development of empathy.
Neonates appear to possess a neural mechanism for vocal affective discrimination, as demonstrated by a mismatch electroencephalographic response over the right hemisphere in response to emotionally laden happy and fearful vs. The results of these two studies suggest remarkably early functional specialization for processing the human voice and emotions. Due to the methodological constraints of functional neuroimaging with children, much of our knowledge of regions of the brain associated with empathy come from studies with adults.
Activation in this network has been reported in response to facial expressions of pain Botvinick et al. These vicariously instigated activations of the pain matrix are not specific to the sensory qualities of pain, but instead are associated with more general survival mechanisms such as aversion and withdrawal when exposed to danger and threat Decety, Developmental Social Neuroscience.
Furthermore, activation of the anterior insula is clear in studies of pain empathy. This response can even be elicited automatically, as shown when participants viewed color photographs depicting human body parts in painful or neutral situations and performed either pain judgment painful—nonpainful or laterality judgment left—right of the body parts in the absence of explicit task requirements and attentional demands Gu et al.
One study has attempted to investigate the development of empathy using functional neuroimaging methods. In subjective evaluations of the stimuli, collected after scanning, a gradual decrease in the judgment of pain intensity for both conditions accidental vs. For younger participants, greater activation in amygdala, posterior insula, and medial OFC was seen when watching others in painful situations. In contrast, a positive correlation was found in the anterior portion of the insula.
The posterior insula receives inputs from the ventromedial nucleus of the thalamus, an area that is highly specialized to convey emotional and homeostatic information, and serves as a primary sensory cortex for both of these distinct interoceptive feelings from the body. In response to others' physical distress, younger participants recruited the posterior portion of the insula, in conjunction with the amygdala and medial OFC, more than adults.
This finding speaks to the children's tendency to be aroused by the perception of others' distress in a more direct sense leading to a heightened experience of discomfort associated with a visceral response to a potential threat, whereas adult participants tend to use more abstract secondary representations of pain when perceiving others in distress. However, recent investigations have begun to use this knowledge from the developmental social neuroscience approach to inform the investigation of abnormal development and psychopathology.
Two areas where this translation of social neuroscience is most evident are in the study of autism and in the study of conduct disorders, antisocial behavior, and callous unemotionality. Phenotypic differences in ASD, such as deficits in face processing, social affiliation, motor imitation, working memory, executive function, and phonological processing are unlikely to be based on the mutation of a single gene. Instead, mutations to multiple genes, each a risk factor for the diverse syndrome, are presumed to account for variability Dawson et al.
Moreover, infants with autism are far less likely to engage in the imitation of adult facial gestures Griffith et al. At around 4 months of age infants begin to become sensitive to emotional and social responsiveness of their caregivers.