Social cognitive neuroscience and psychiatry Psychiatry has been traditionally concerned with the inner world. Irrespective of the approach (symptom based neo-Kraepelininan, phenomenological, dynamic, or other), psychiatry holds profound interest in, and epistemic respect for, the subjective.72 Current psychiatric diagnosing relies on collecting symptoms largely based on patients’ subjective perception Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical of themselves, and of how they believe others are and see them.30 Cognitive neuroscience and its application to
psychiatric research have been highly productive in demonstrating correlations between many psychiatric disorders and the engagement of various brain systems.58 A better understanding Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical of social cognition and of its brain mechanisms may improve prediction of course and treatment of psychiatric disorders, but it is less clear, as discussed above, how the current paradigms will improve our knowledge of the bases of psychiatric disorders. Let’s take the example of patients with depression. Patients with depression are known to have a reduced degree of social adaptation73,74 and (may) Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical show impaired recognition of emotion from facial expressions (a paradigmatic experimental approach in social Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical neuroscience).75,76 If an promotion association between perception
of facial expressions and social adaptation is found, it is often assumed that the difficulty of perception is primary and etiologically related to depression and to the social maladaptation accompanying depression (and perhaps shares common brain mechanisms). Generally this approach follows the “deficit” model, even though more refined social
cognitive paradigms have begun to demonstrate that the “bias” model may also be appropriate for understanding the social cognitive alterations in several psychiatric conditions.77 In a recent study, patients with a history of Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical depression who were somehow examined while depressed showed reduced capacity to appreciate stimuli conveying happiness (and not negative emotions) relative to Brefeldin_A patients who were examined while in remission, strongly indicating that the phenomenon was related to the depressive state and purportedly attributable to bias (Loi et al, unpublished). For a similar example on eating disorder research see Pringle et al,32 and for an example on schizophrenia see McCormick et al.78 Therefore, performance changes on a social cognitive task may be useful to define prognosis and response to treatment and even conceivably help to give external validity to a diagnosis (ie, allowing definition of boundaries with other psychiatric conditions).