This collection of essays by a group of distinguished social neuroscientists provides the reader with an engaging overview of this emerging multidisciplinary and collaborative field. In the twentieth century, the arbitrary barrier between neuroscience and social psychology was reinforced by the specialized knowledge required by each field and an emphasis on scientific work in isolation from other disciplines; the biological and social perspectives on mind and behavior developed for the most part independently of each other. Neuroscientists often considered social factors irrelevant or minimally important, while cognitive and social scientists tended to ignore biological constraints and mechanisms as leading to what they mistakenly thought of as reductionism. By the end of the twentieth century, however, as those working in both fields were spurred by the common goal of understanding how the mind works, systematic collaborations between neuroscientists and cognitive scientists had begun. These collaborative efforts have already helped unravel aspects of perception, imagery, attention, and memory.
These essays—by leaders in the field—reflect the range of disciplines engaged and questions addressed today in social neuroscience. Topics include maternal effects and chromatin modeling; "Oxytocin and the prairie vole: a love story"; pheromones, social odors, and the unconscious; and memory.
A full understanding of the biology and behavior of humans cannot be complete without the collective contributions of the social sciences, cognitive sciences, and neurosciences. This book collects eighty-two of the foundational articles in the emerging discipline of social neuroscience.
The book addresses five main areas of research: multilevel integrative analyses of social behavior, using the tools of neuroscience, cognitive science, and social science to examine specific cases of social interaction; the relationships between social cognition and the brain, using noninvasive brain imaging to document brain function in various social situations; rudimentary biological mechanisms for motivation, emotion, and attitudes, and the shaping of these mechanisms by social factors; the biology of social relationships and interpersonal processes; and social influences on biology and health.