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, 69 (5 Pt 2), 85R-91R

Genetic Influences on Social Cognition


Genetic Influences on Social Cognition

David H Skuse et al. Pediatr Res.


Human social behavior develops under the influence of genetic, environmental, and cultural factors. Social cognition comprises our ability to understand and respond appropriately to other people's social approaches or responses. The concept embraces self-knowledge and theory of mind, or the ability to think about emotions and behavior from the perspective of another person. The neuropeptides oxytocin (OT) and vasopressin (AVP) are now known to play an important role, affecting individual differences in parenting behavior, social recognition, and affiliative behaviors. The processes of social cognition are also supported by reward circuitry, underpinned by the dopaminergic neurotransmitter system. Reward processes build social relationships, in parenting and pair-bonding, and influence social interactions that require trust, or display altruism. The impact of emotional regulation upon social behavior, including mood and anxiety, is also mediated through the serotonergic system. Variation in activity of serotonergic networks in the brain influences emotional responsivity, including subjective feelings, physiological responses, emotional expressions, and the tendency to become engaged in action as a consequence of a feeling state. Genetic variation in the receptors associated with OT, AVP, dopamine, and serotonin has been intensively studied in humans and animal models. Recent findings are building an increasingly coherent picture of regulatory mechanisms.

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