In this paper, we review studies using functional neuroimaging to examine cognition in neuropsychiatric disorders. The focus is on social cognition, which is a topic that has received increasing attention over the past few years. A network of brain regions is proposed for social cognition that includes regions involved in processes relevant to social functioning (for example, self reference and emotion). We discuss the alterations of activity in these areas in patients with autism, depression, schizophrenia, and posttraumatic stress disorders in relation to deficits in social behaviour and symptoms. The evidence to date suggests that there may be some specificity of the brain regions involved in these 4 disorders, but all are associated with dysfunction in the amygdala and dorsal cingulate gyrus. Although there is much work remaining in this area, we are beginning to understand the complex interactions of brain function and behaviour that lead to disruptions of social abilities.