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The aging of the social brain a.y. 2020/21


ocial cognition is a wide cognitive domain, including emotion recognition, empathy and theory of mind as main components. This labyrinth of cognitive processes is orchestrated by a complex array of low- and high-level connections vulnerable to neurodegeneration occurring in pathological and normal aging. While mentalizing relies on a large-scale anterior (i.e., ventromedial prefrontal cortex) - posterior (i.e., temporo-parietal junctions, superior temporal sulcus and precuneus) network, the limbic system (i.e., amygdala, insula and anterior cingulate cortex) is the main processing stream for emotion recognition and empathy. The main objective of the course is to provide a synthetic overview of the concepts of social cognition disorders, considering both changes in the “social brain” occurring in elderly and selective socio-emotional impairments characterizing some neurodegenerative cognitive disorders. This objective will be pursued with an interdisciplinary approach aimed at clarifying the state of the art in clinical and experimental neuroscience. Neural correlates and clinical phenotypes of different cognitive pathologies will be illustrated, as well as their possible diagnostic-therapeutic implications.


April 12th, 14-17
April 14th, 14-16
April 19th, 14-17
April 21st, 14-16


  • Mather, M., The Affective Neuroscience of Aging. Annu Rev Psychol. 2016; 67: 213-238.
  • Schroeter, M.L., Laird, A.R., Chwiesko, C., Deuschl, C., Schneider, E., Bzdok, D., Eickhoff, S.B., Neumann, J. Conceptualizing neuropsychiatric diseases with multimodal data-driven meta-analyses: The case of behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia. Cortex. 2014; 57: 22-37. 
  • Poletti, M., Enrici, I., Adenzato, M. Cognitive and affective Theory of Mind in neurodegenerative diseases: neuropsychological, neuroanatomical and neurochemical levels. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2012; 36: 2147-2164.

Other Suggested Readings

  • Fittipaldi, S., Ibanez, A., Baez, S., Manes, F., Sedeno, L., Garcia, A. M. More than words: social cognition across variants of primary progressive aphasia. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2019; 100: 263-284. 
  • Wang, Y., Metoki, A., Alm, K. H., Olson, I. R. White Matter Pathways and Social Cognition. Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2018 Jul; 90: 350–370.
  • Burrell, J. R., Hodges, J. R., Rowe, J. B. Cognition in corticobasal syndrome and progressive supranuclear palsy: a review. Mov Disord. 2014; 5: 684-693. 
  • Cassidy, B. S., Shih, J. Y., Gutchess A. H. Age-Related Changes to the Neural Correlates of Social Evaluation. Soc Neurosci. 2012 Nov; 7(6): 552-564. 

Additional material will be provided during the course. 


The evaluation will be based on oral exam.
Credits: 2

Chiara Cerami

Ricercatrice Senior in Neurologia


Tipologia corso : Tipo b

Periodo: Semestre II

Anno accademico: 2020-2021

Durata : 10 hours