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WIREs Cogn Sci
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Social neuroscience

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Abstract Social species, by definition, create emergent organizations beyond the individual that range in humans from dyads, families, and groups to cities, civilizations, and cultures. These emergent structures evolved hand‐in‐hand with neural, hormonal, and genetic mechanisms to support them because the consequent social behaviors helped these organisms survive, reproduce, and care for offspring sufficiently long that they too survived to reproduce. Social neuroscience is concerned with investigating these emergent structures and the underlying neural, hormonal, and genetic mechanisms that make them possible. As such, it represents an interdisciplinary approach devoted to understanding how biological systems implement social processes and behavior, and to using biological concepts and methods to inform and refine theories of social processes and behavior. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. This article is categorized under: Neuroscience > Behavior

Hierarchy versus heterarchy: organizational structure. (A) Classical hierarchical organization, with sensory inputs and motor outputs associated with lowest levels, and maximal convergence/divergence at the highest level. (B) Heterarchical organization with long ascending and descending pathways (dashed arrows). Not illustrated are additional complexities associated with the presence of lateral interactions.

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