What is Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience?
Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience, or SCAN, is a field that combines Social Neuroscience, Cognitive Neuroscience, Social Cognitive Neuroscience, and Affective Neuroscience. Matthew D. Lieberman, editor-in-chief of the scientific journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, summed it up nicely in the introduction of his first editorial (2006):
“It was not long ago that those in the biological and medical sciences would have little reason to break bread with those in the social sciences. Similarly, those of us in the social sciences spent little, if any, time imagining how our work could be enhanced by sitting down with those in the biological and medical sciences. Although we may still have offices separated by floors, buildings, or even whole campuses, our ideas have increasingly become interconnected in a new intellectual enterprise and our research endeavors have become interdisciplinary across lines that once seemed impenetrable. The biological and medical sciences are recognizing that a full accounting of human biology cannot proceed without incorporating the social and emotional factors that modulate the functioning and health of biological systems, and may have played a key role in the evolution of those systems. The social sciences are simultaneously embracing the idea that the social mind cannot be severed from the social brain and body. Ultimately, a full understanding of the social mind depends upon a full understanding of how the brain and body are receptive to socioemotional pressures and produce social behavior. For those of us working at the intersection of the social sciences and neurosciences, these are exciting times indeed. Although the social sciences and neurosciences have been hugely successful enterprises in their own right, there is a sense that we can now build an intellectual superhighway between them that will allow us to catalyze the insights from both into a new kind of science that will yield important insights into the basic nature of the human mind as well as shape future thinking about applied issues such as mental health and the treatment of addiction.”