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WIREs Cogn Sci
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An integrative cognitive neuroscience theory of social reasoning and moral judgment

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Abstract Cognitive neuroscience has made considerable progress in understanding the involvement of the prefrontal cortex (PFC) in social cognition and moral judgment. Accumulating evidence suggests that representations within the lateral PFC enable people to orchestrate their thoughts and actions in concert with their intentions to support goal‐directed social behavior. Despite the pivotal role of this region in guiding social interactions, remarkably little is known about the functional organization and forms of social knowledge mediated by the lateral PFC. Here, we review recent theoretical developments in evolutionary psychology and emerging evidence from the social and decision neuroscience literatures demonstrating the importance of the lateral PFC for orchestrating behavior on the basis of evolutionarily adaptive social norms for obligatory, prohibited, and permissible courses of action. WIREs Cogn Sci 2011 2 55–67 DOI: 10.1002/wcs.84 This article is categorized under: Psychology > Reasoning and Decision Making Neuroscience > Behavior

Brodmann map of the lateral prefrontal cortex (Reprinted with permission from Ref 53 Copyright 2004 Nature Reviews)..

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Integrative anatomy of the macaque monkey prefrontal cortex. Numbers refer to subregions within the lateral prefrontal cortex defined by Brodmann. Modified with permission from Miller.52.

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An evolutionarily adaptive neural architecture for goal‐directed social behavior. (a) Summa‐ rizes the functional organization of the lateral PFC, and (b–d) illustrate supportive evidence.

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Ontogenetic map of the prefrontal cortex according to Flechsig.62,63 The numeration of the areas indicates the order of their myelination. Modified with permission from Flechsig.63.

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