Research Topic

Examining the role of memory in social cognition

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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 ...

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? In this Special Topics, papers are encouraged that examine this intersection between cognitive and social neuroscience, exploring the importance of memory to social cognition. This Research Topic welcomes original research articles, reviews, opinion and method papers. While emphasizing work in the neurosciences, this Research Topic also welcomes contributions in the form of novel behavioral studies, methodological innovations, childhood and lifespan developmental investigations and patient/clinical case studies, which address the convergence between memory and social cognition.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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