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Social cognition is a field of cognitive neuroscience, which is a combination of neuroscience and cognitive psychology. It attempts to explain people’s attitudes, interactions, emotions, and self-control by looking at key components such as memory, attention, and implicit and explicit cognition. The theories behind these themes have roots in biological and psychological discoveries that have been based on experiments on human and non-human subjects.
These discoveries have shaped what we know and understand about complex behaviors in normal as well as impaired individuals such as autistics. Whereas the biological theories stem from the delineation of brain pathways, neurotransmitters, and imaging analyses, the psychological ones also look at the influence of aspects of the environment such as education and culture on the development of cognition.
The highest level of cognition involves monitoring one’s own behavior and adjusting it according to feedback relating to the outcome of the behavior. It involves problem-solving and making complex decisions. This process has multiple levels, from processing environmental cues and judging the extent of motivation to alter behavior. This self-regulation is directly affected by certain drugs, so pointing the finger at the reward and reinforcement center in the brain is not sufficient to explain this dysregulation in cognition. Drug addiction might be associated with psychiatric conditions like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder because for drug addicts just thinking about using drugs provides relief from unpleasant moods and sensations.