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Examining the role of memory in social cognition

Edited by: R. Nathan Spreng

Publisher: Frontiers Media SA

ISBN: 978-2-88919-189-5

Product Name: Frontiers Research Topic Ebook

The function of memory is not only to recall the past, but also to form and update models of our experiences and use these models to navigate the world. Perhaps the most complex environment for humans to navigate is the social one. Social dynamics are extraordinarily complex, unstructured, labile and difficult to predict. However, successful navigation of the social world is essential to forming and maintaining interpersonal relationships. Little research has examined the role that memory plays in social behavior and interpersonal sensitivity. There is growing evidence that recalling personally experienced events (autobiographical memory) and inferring the mental states of others (mentalizing or theory-of-mind) share an extensive functional neuroanatomy. The functional overlap between autobiographical memory and mental inference has been hypothesized to facilitate the integration of personal and interpersonal information. This integration may provide a means for personal experiences to become social conceptual knowledge that, in turn, informs strategic social behavior. In this process, we project our memories onto others in order to better understand and empathize with them.

A number of fundamental questions remain about the relationship between memory and social cognition. Do we need a record of the past to navigate the social world adaptively? How is social conceptual knowledge represented, updated, and used to guide social behavior? What is the role of implicit memory on social judgments? How does social cognition interact with capacity limits in working memory? Is there something unique about the neural coding of social information in memory?

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