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Evolution of Social Predictive Brains?

Frontiers in Psychology
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00414
  • Psychology
  • General Commentary
  • Biology


Evolution of social predictive brains? a social interaction, this improved visual discrimination and detection of biological motion (Neri et al., 2006; Manera et al., 2011). This “inverse relationship” between bottom-up perceptual input and top-down social information implies the presence of “social” forward (internally generated) models acting as top-down priors, which may be competing with other internal models for overall control, comparable to forward models of action (Wolpert and Miall, 1996). In accordance with this body of work, it would be legitimate to argue that either the evolution of at least some social cog- nitive processes such as “theory of mind” emerged through “cooptation” of predic- tive mechanisms or vice versa, as selec- tion pressures on sophisticated abilities to predict and manipulate the behavior of con-specifics increased in early hominid environments that became more heavily reliant on social cooperation. The modu- lation of predictive mechanisms by social context could be explained by a prioritized attentional orientation toward social infor- mation (Driver et al., 1999), which would likely have had some adaptive evolutionary benefits. The increasing complexity of the social environment in primates and humans may have consequently had an impact on the development of fundamental predic- tive mechanisms, and therefore recruiting previously non-social cognitions and neu- ral structures for social predictive functions. This notion could also be supported by the substantial overlap seen between brain areas implicated in the “predictive brain” (Bubic et al., 2010) and the “social brain” (Abu- Akel and Shamay-Tsoory, 2011). These suggestions are compatible with the social brain hypothesis (Brothers, 1990; Dunbar, 1998). Indeed, Sallet et al. (2011) have recently shown that social network size and social status is correlated with gray matter A commentary on Whatever next? Predictive brains, situated agents, and the future of c

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