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Social NeuroscienceToward Understanding the Underpinnings of the Social Mind$
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Alexander Todorov, Susan Fiske, and Deborah Prentice

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195316872

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195316872.001.0001

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Building a Social Brain

Building a Social Brain

Chapter:
(p.274) Chapter 19 Building a Social Brain
Source:
Social Neuroscience
Author(s):

Todd F. Heatherton

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195316872.003.0019

This chapter argues that an evolutionary need to belong has guided the evolution of a social brain. It proposes that building a social brain requires four essential components: self-awareness, theory of mind (ToM), threat detection, and self-regulation. First, people need self-awareness—to be aware of their behaviors so as to gauge them against societal or group norms and the available evidence indicates that ventral mPFC is especially important for the experience of self. Second, people need to understand how others are reacting to their behavior so as to predict how others will respond to them. Threat detection involves at least the amygdala and the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), although the precise nature of their roles in threat detection remains somewhat unclear. Finally, self-regulation involves a number of prefrontal brain regions, including ACC, lateral prefrontal cortex (PFC), and ventral-medial PFC. It is possible that these areas play different roles in self-regulation failure depending on whether the failure is related to an impaired sense of self (vmPFC), impaired ToM (dorsal PFC), or failure to detect threat or conflict (ACC).

Keywords:   social brain, self-awareness, theory of mind, threat detection, self-regulation

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