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Bipartite functional fractionation within the neural system for social cognition supports the psychological continuity of self versus other.
Research of social neuroscience establishes that regions in the brain's default-mode network (DN) and semantic network (SN) are engaged by socio-cognitive tasks. Research of the human connectome shows that DN and SN regions are both situated at the transmodal end of a cortical gradient but differ in their loci along this gradient. Here we integrated these 2 bodies of research, used the psychological continuity of self versus other as a "test-case," and used functional magnetic resonance imaging to investigate whether these 2 networks would encode social concepts differently. We found a robust dissociation between the DN and SN-while both networks contained sufficient information for decoding broad-stroke distinction of social categories, the DN carried more generalizable information for cross-classifying across social distance and emotive valence than did the SN. We also found that the overarching distinction of self versus other was a principal divider of the representational space while social distance was an auxiliary factor (subdivision, nested within the principal dimension), and this representational landscape was more manifested in the DN than in the SN. Taken together, our findings demonstrate how insights from connectome research can benefit social neuroscience and have implications for clarifying the 2 networks' differential contributions to social cognition.
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