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date: 06 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Much research has focused on how the adult human brain processes social information, yet until recently little was known about the early development of these abilities. This chapter reviews recent work examining the precursors of the human social brain network during infancy in several domains such as face and eye gaze processing, engaging in joint attention, decoding of biological motion, and understanding of human action. The findings from electroencephalography (EEG) and near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) studies in these domains suggest that some brain processes implicated in social cognition in adults become sensitive during infancy. While there seems to be emerging functional specialization for social cognition within individual brain regions during infancy, what still needs to be understood is how these regions become orchestrated into functional networks during development. Thus, in the final section on emerging networks, an account is put forward, based on prefrontal cortex functioning and computational modeling, of how such an integration might be achieved.

Keywords: social cognition, social brain, face, gaze, joint attention, biological motion, action

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