The neuropsychology of social cognition: Implications for psychiatric disorders

Tamara A. Russell, Melissa J. Green

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    Social cognition in an evolutionary framework Social cognition refers to cognitive processes necessary for the accurate perception and interpretation of information conveyed by conspecifics (other individuals of the same species). This is particularly relevant to higher cognitive processes that underpin the formulation of appropriate and flexible behavioral responses that are required in everyday social interactions (Adolphs,1999; Ostrom, 1984). Social information is distinct from non-social information in several ways. Non-social cognitive stimuli are most commonly of neutral valence (e.g. auditory tones, visual shapes, letters or numbers), while social cognitive stimuli are often personally relevant and take the form of dynamic bi-directional interactions, insofar as each participant's responses can influence the social exchange (Fiske, 1991). Also, social inferences are often based upon the perception of fleeting information (i.e. dynamic displays of facial emotion), or the perception of unobservable characteristics requiring inference from subtle behavioral displays (e.g. judgments about personality characteristics may be based on the observation of interpersonal behavior, but cannot be observed per se); these types of inference are not as common in non-social cognition (Fiske, 1991). Social cognition may also be seen as distinct from non-social cognition given that adequate skills in this domain are required for efficient social behavior and social functioning (Pinkham et al., 2003). Given these distinctions, social cognitive skills are not typically assessed by standard neuropsychological tools. However, effective social cognition may certainly rely upon effective functioning in domain-general cognitive domains (e.g. attention, memory, working memory, executive functioning; this issue is addressed in later discussion).

    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Neuropsychology of Mental Illness
    PublisherCambridge University Press
    Number of pages21
    ISBN (Electronic)9780511642197
    ISBN (Print)9780521862899
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


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