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date: 06 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Great progress has been made in understanding the neurobiological basis of social and interpersonal behavior. Here we review the major themes and findings from this diverse and growing body of literature. Specifically, we review relevant findings on social perception; empathy; simulation theory and mirror neurons; shared neural networks; biological motion perception and the superior temporal sulcus; the amygdala in emotional perception; the roles of oxytocin, dopamine, and endogenous opioids in sexual, caregiving, and attachment behavior; loneliness and social rejection; tending and befriending when under threat; pair bonding; and the social regulation of emotion. We summarize this research arguing for attention to four important principles that we believe are critical to understanding the neuroscience of relationships: economy of action, prediction, perception–action links, and deep sociality. Specifically, we argue that, in part through overlapping self–other representations and neural systems designed to translate perception into action, high-quality close relationships and interpersonal contact conserve metabolic resources and promote environmental predictability. We end this chapter with recommendations and thoughts about future directions.

Keywords: neurobiology, interpersonal behavior, social perception, empathy, simulation theory, attachment behavior, loneliness, pair bonding, social regulation of emotion

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