Context as a Determinant of Interpersonal Processes: The Social Context Network Model
Social meaning and interaction are shaped by situational elements (real or imagined, explicit or implicit). In this chapter, we introduce the Social Context Network Model (SCNM), which aims to capture the neuroanatomical underpinnings of contextual determinants of social cognition. In the SCNM, prefrontal areas are involved in the generation of focused predictions by updating associations among events (targets) in a specific context. Target-context associations and their experiential learning are indexed by temporal regions. Finally, insular networks support the convergence of emotional and cognitive states related to the coordination between external and internal milieus (or interoception). In brief, we propose that fronto-insulo-temporal networks are critical for the integration of interoceptive states and emotions with social information in order to predict and ascribe social meanings. This framework is then extended to dimensional and transnosological approaches to neuropsychiatry. We highlight how the SCNM can provide clinical and theoretical shortcuts for frontotemporal dementia, autism spectrum disorders, and other neuropsychiatric conditions, supporting a basic contextual impairment underlying social cognition deficits. We present new SCNM paradigms, testable dimensional and transdiagnostic hypotheses, and potential interventions for neuropsychiatric conditions. Finally, we propose a situated approach to formulate tasks that closely resemble everyday cognition while observing key methodological constraints.
KeywordsSCNM Predictive context Target-context associations Interoception Fronto-temporal-insular networks Neuropsychiatry Frontotemporal dementia Autism spectrum disorder
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