Neural pathways of social cognition

Tjeerd Jellema and David I. Perrett

in Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780198568308
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Neural pathways of social cognition

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience



This article reviews recent ideas about visual pathways and mechanisms in the brains of human and non-human primates that support social cognition. It shows how the detection of visual cues provides a basis for guiding the observer's behaviour in ways that are based on the current and likely future behaviour of others. These visual mechanisms underpin social cognition, but do not rely on understanding others' minds. They provide what one could call a ‘mechanistic’ description of others' behaviour and of social events in terms of constituent components of actions, their causes and consequences, and expected future occurrence. The article argues that the superior temporal sulcus forms the prime neural substrate for forming descriptions of the ‘mechanics’ of social events.

Keywords: visual pathways; brains; human; primates; social cognition; visual cues; behavior; superior temporal sulcus; mechanics

Article.  10924 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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