An evolutionarily adaptive neural architecture for social reasoning

Aron K. Barbey*, Frank Krueger, Jordan Grafman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

42 Scopus citations


Recent progress in cognitive neuroscience highlights the involvement of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in social cognition. Accumulating evidence demonstrates that representations within the lateral PFC enable people to coordinate their thoughts and actions with their intentions to support goal-directed social behavior. Despite the importance of this region in guiding social interactions, remarkably little is known about the functional organization and forms of social inference processed by the lateral PFC. Here, we introduce a cognitive neuroscience framework for understanding the inferential architecture of the lateral PFC, drawing upon recent theoretical developments in evolutionary psychology and emerging neuroscience evidence about how this region can orchestrate behavior on the basis of evolutionarily adaptive social norms for obligatory, prohibited and permissible courses of action.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)603-610
Number of pages8
JournalTrends in Neurosciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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