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A new look at domain specificity: insights from social neuroscience

Nature Reviews Neuroscience volume 18, pages 559567 (2017) | Download Citation

Abstract

The concept of domain specificity — which suggests that some aspects of neural processing are specialized for particular types of stimuli — has been invoked to explain a range of cognitive phenomena, including language, face perception and theory of mind, and has been a hallmark of theories of cognitive architecture. More recent usage of this concept draws on neuroscientific data and, in particular, on work in social neuroscience. A critical examination of the part that the concept of domain specificity has played in theories of human brain function leads us to suggest a new view according to which domain specificity pertains to centrally generated constraints on information processing that can be both dynamic and context sensitive.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank members of the Adolphs laboratory for helpful comments. This work was support by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) grant 2P50MH094258. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIMH.

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  1. California Institute of Technology, 1200 E California Blvd, HSS 228–77, Pasadena, California 91125, USA.

    • Robert P. Spunt
    •  & Ralph Adolphs

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Correspondence to Robert P. Spunt or Ralph Adolphs.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn.2017.76