Social neuroscience addresses fundamental questions about the mind and its dynamic interactions with the biological systems of the brain and the social world in which it resides (Cacioppo & Berntson, 1992; Cacioppo, 1994). This field studies the relationship between neural and social processes, including the intervening informationprocessing components and operations at both the neural and the computational levels of analysis. As such, work in social neuroscience builds on work in the neurosciences, cognitive sciences, and social sciences. Neuroscientists and cognitive scientists have collaborated for more than a decade with the common goal of understanding how the mind works. The premise underlying this book is that the study of complex aspects of the mind and behavior will benefit from yet a broader collaboration of neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, and social scientists. Collaborations between cognitive scientists and neuroscientists have helped solve puzzles of the mind including aspects of perception, imagery, attention, and memory (Churchland & Sejnowski, 1988; Kosslyn & Andersen, 1992). Many aspects of the mind, however, require a more comprehensive approach to reveal the mystery of mind-brain connections.
Attraction, altruism, aggression, a‰liation, attachment, attitudes, identification, cooperation, competition, empathy, sexuality, communication, dominance, persuasion, obedience, and nurturance are just a few examples. Humans are fundamentally social animals who can exist only in a web of relationships. To simplify their study of the mind, many scientists have ignored social aspects. As discussed in chapter 3, Not long ago, it was thought that a set of master genes activated the DNA necessary to produce the appropriate proteins for development and behavior (Crick, 1970). The architects of this construction were conceived as the forces of evolution operating over millennia; the builders were conceived as encapsulated within each living cell far from the reach of personal ties or sociocultural influences. Human biology, however, has evolved within a fiercely social world, provides potentials and constraints for representation and behavior attuned to this social world, and is shaped profoundly by the social world. The papers in this book call into question this fundamental assumption