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Seven Computations of the Social Brain

Molapour, T; Hagan, CC; Silston, B; Wu, H; Ramstead, M; Friston, K; Mobbs, D; (2021) Seven Computations of the Social Brain. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 10.1093/scan/nsab024. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

The social environment presents the human brain with the most complex of information processing demands. The computations that the brain must perform occur in parallel, combine social and nonsocial cues, produce verbal and non-verbal signals, and involve multiple cognitive systems; including memory, attention, emotion, learning. This occurs dynamically and at timescales ranging from milliseconds to years. Here, we propose that during social interactions, seven core operations interact to underwrite coherent social functioning; these operations accumulate evidence efficiently – from multiple modalities – when inferring what to do next. We deconstruct the social brain and outline the key components entailed for successful human social interaction. These include (1) social perception; (2) social inferences, such as mentalizing; (3) social learning; (4) social signaling through verbal and non-verbal cues; (5) social drives (e.g., how to increase one’s status); (6) determining the social identity of agents, including oneself; and (7) minimizing uncertainty within the current social context by integrating sensory signals and inferences. We argue that while it is important to examine these distinct aspects of social inference, to understand the true nature of the human social brain, we must also explain how the brain integrates information from the social world.

Type: Article
Title: Seven Computations of the Social Brain
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/scan/nsab024
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsab024
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: mentalizing, social signaling, active inference, external/internal self
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10123941
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