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Neuroimage. 2012 Jun;61(2):437-49. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.01.109. Epub 2012 Jan 28.

The past, present and future of social neuroscience: a European perspective.

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1
Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Department of Social Neuroscience, Stephanstrasse 1a, Leipzig, Germany. singer@cbs.mpg.de

Abstract

This review provides an overview of the field of social neuroscience from a European perspective and focuses mainly on outlining research topics which originated in European laboratories. After a brief historical synopsis of the emergence of this young field, the most relevant findings related to the investigation of the neural networks underlying our capacity to understand the minds of others are summarized. More specifically, three routes of social cognition are distinguished: (1) our capacity to mentalize, or to infer intentions and beliefs of others, (2) our capacity to mimic and understand other's motor actions, and (3) our capacity to empathize, or to share and understand the feelings of others. More recent studies focusing on social emotions such as love, compassion, revenge or our sense of fairness will be discussed linking the field of social neuroscience to the even younger field of neuroeconomics, with the focus on the study of human social interactions using game theoretical paradigms. Finally, the use of a multi-method and multi-disciplinary research approach combining genetic, pharmacological, computational and developmental aspects is advocated and future directions for the study of interactive minds are discussed.

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