Uniquely human social cognition

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2006 Apr;16(2):235-9. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2006.03.001. Epub 2006 Mar 20.


Recent data identify distinct components of social cognition associated with five brain regions. In posterior temporal cortex, the extrastriate body area is associated with perceiving the form of other human bodies. A nearby region in the posterior superior temporal sulcus is involved in interpreting the motions of a human body in terms of goals. A distinct region at the temporo-parietal junction supports the uniquely human ability to reason about the contents of mental states. Medial prefrontal cortex is divided into at least two subregions. Ventral medial prefrontal cortex is implicated in emotional empathy, whereas dorsal medial prefrontal cortex is implicated in the uniquely human representation of triadic relations between two minds and an object, supporting shared attention and collaborative goals.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Neuropsychology / trends
  • Parietal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / anatomy & histology
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Social Behavior*
  • Temporal Lobe / anatomy & histology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology
  • Thinking / physiology