Specialized Networks for Social Cognition in the Primate Brain

TitleSpecialized Networks for Social Cognition in the Primate Brain
Publication TypeViews & Reviews
Year of PublicationIn Press
AuthorsFreiwald, W, Deen, B, Sliwa, J, Schwiedrzik, CM

Primates have evolved diverse cognitive capabilities to navigate their complex social world. To understand how the brain implements critical social cognitive abilities, we describe functional specialization in the domains of face processing, social interaction understanding, and mental state attribution. Systems for face processing are specialized from the level of single cells to populations of neurons within brain regions to hierarchically organized networks that extract and represent abstract social information. Such functional specialization is not confined to the sensorimotor periphery but appears to be a pervasive theme of primate brain organization all the way to the apex regions of cortical hierarchies. Circuits processing social information are juxtaposed with parallel systems involved in processing nonsocial information, suggesting common computations applied to different domains. The emerging picture of the neural basis of social cognition is a set of distinct but interacting subnetworks involved in component processes such as face perception and social reasoning, traversing large parts of the primate brain.

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