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Neurology. 2012 Apr 24;78(17):1354-62. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182518375.

Contextual social cognition and the behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia.

Author information

1
Institute of Cognitive Neurology and Institute of Neurosciences, Favaloro University, Buenos Aires, Argentina. aibanez@ineco.org.ar

Abstract

The significance of social situations is commonly context-embedded. Although the role of context has been extensively studied in basic sensory processing or simple stimulus-response settings, its relevance for social cognition is unknown. We propose the social context network model (SCNM), a fronto-insular-temporal network responsible for processing social contextual effects. The SCNM may 1) update the context and use it to make predictions, 2) coordinate internal and external milieus, and 3) consolidate context-target associative learning. We suggest the behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) as a specific disorder in which the reported deficits in social cognition (e.g., facial recognition, empathy, decision-making, figurative language, theory of mind) can be described as context impairments due to deficits in the SCNM. Disruption of orbitofrontal-amygdala circuit, as well as the frontal, temporal, and insular atrophy in bVFTD, suggests a relationship between context-sensitive social cognition and SCNM. In considering context as an intrinsic part of social cognition, we highlight the need for a situated cognition approach in social cognition research as opposed to an abstract, universal, and decontextualized approach. The assessment of context-dependent social cognition paradigms, the SCNM, and their possible application to neuropsychiatric disorders may provide new insight into bvFTD and other related frontal disorders.

PMID:
22529204
PMCID:
PMC3335455
DOI:
10.1212/WNL.0b013e3182518375
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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