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Dementia and Social Neuroscience: Historical and Cultural Perspectives

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Abstract

The late nineteenth century and most of the twentieth century have seen the scientific approach applied to human cognition. Within this conceptual framework, social/emotional behaviours have often been perceived as nuisance variables in the investigations of ‘higher’ cognitive functions. Thus, neurodegenerative conditions associated with ageing (such as dementia), in which cognition becomes progressively affected, were diagnosed by focusing predominantly on the main domains of cognition, including memory, language, executive function, and attention. In recent years, a shift has emerged with increasing evidence that social/emotional cognition is an integral part of human cognition and needs to be apprehended as a distinct but complementary component of human behaviour. In addition, social/emotional processing has been demonstrated to be a strong modulator of cognitive performance. In this chapter, I review how the diagnosis of dementia has changed over the past 100 years to progressively include social/emotional cognition in their heuristics. I also highlight how the inclusion of social neuroscience methods in the clinical assessment of dementia patients can enhance the accuracy and specificity of the clinical diagnosis of these neurodegenerative conditions.

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Acknowledgements

OP is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia Senior Research Fellowship (APP1103258).

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Correspondence to Olivier Piguet .

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Piguet, O. (2017). Dementia and Social Neuroscience: Historical and Cultural Perspectives. In: Ibáñez, A., Sedeño, L., García, A. (eds) Neuroscience and Social Science. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-68421-5_11

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