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Title: Self-other control as a candidate neurocognitive mechanism of typical and atypical social cognition
Author: Sowden, Sophie Lauren
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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Despite ever-growing interest in the ‘social brain’ and the search for the neural underpinnings of social cognition, we are yet to fully understand the basic neurocognitive mechanisms underlying complex social behaviours and their development. One such candidate mechanism is the control of neural representations of the self and of other people (Brass, Ruby, & Spengler, 2009; Spengler, von Cramon, & Brass, 2009a). For example, when taking another’s perspective or controlling the tendency to imitate another’s actions, key milestones in social cognitive development, it is necessary to control or switch between one’s own self-generated representations, and representations elicited by others. Moreover, if a common, underlying neurocognitive mechanism to explain performance across social domains is found, this may shed important light on our understanding of disorders accompanied by broad social impairments. This thesis will take three main foci in its investigation of self-other control as a candidate neurocognitive mechanism of typical and atypical social cognition. Firstly, the thesis will provide an examination of behavioural indexes of self-other control using experimental tasks. Secondly, a potential neural basis for such a mechanism will be investigated using neurostimulation. Thirdly, it will be investigated whether disorders of social cognition, in particular autism, may involve atypical modulation of self and other representations (Cook & Bird, 2012; Sowden & Shah, 2014) and thus may be characterised as ‘disorders of self-other control’ or top-down modulation of social behaviour. Using the findings from this thesis, discussion will be introduced about the potential for training such a mechanism in order to achieve across-domain amelioration of symptoms in individuals with such a profile of social impairments.
Supervisor: Happe, Francesca Gabrielle Elizabeth ; Bird, Geoffrey Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available