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The social mind: Disentangling affective and cognitive routes to understanding others

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Kanske,  Philipp
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
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Citation

Kanske, P. (2018). The social mind: Disentangling affective and cognitive routes to understanding others. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 43(2), 115-124. doi:10.1080/03080188.2018.1453243.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-F6BD-5
Abstract
To flexibly adjust behaviour to that of other people around us requires some representation of their overt actions, but also of the driving forces behind them, that is, their goals, intentions, and emotions. Socio-affective and -cognitive functions enable such representations via creating vicarious affective states in the observer (empathy) or by accumulating abstract, propositional knowledge of another person’s mental state (Theory of Mind). While the empathic sharing of another’s emotions is implemented by those neural networks that also process first-hand emotion, Theory of Mind activates a widespread network that seems to process information independent of its specific modality or content. Crucially, these two routes can function independently as individual differences in the respective capacities and network activations are unrelated and selective impairments in one or the other function occur in psychopathology. However, they may co-activate and co-operate in complex social situations, determining how prosocially interactive behaviour unfolds.