Social brain, social dysfunction and social withdrawal

Stefano Porcelli, Nic van der Wee, Steven van der Werff, Moji Aghajani, Jeffrey C. Glennon, Sabrina van Heukelum, Floriana Mogavero, Antonio Lobo, Francisco Javier Olivera, Elena Lobo, Mar Posadas, Juergen Dukart, Rouba Kozak, Estibaliz Arce, Arfan Ikram, Jacob Vorstman, Amy Bilderbeck, Ilja Saris, Martien J. Kas, Alessandro Serretti

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


The human social brain is complex. Current knowledge fails to define the neurobiological processes underlying social behaviour involving the (patho-) physiological mechanisms that link system-level phenomena to the multiple hierarchies of brain function. Unfortunately, such a high complexity may also be associated with a high susceptibility to several pathogenic interventions. Consistently, social deficits sometimes represent the first signs of a number of neuropsychiatric disorders including schizophrenia (SCZ), Alzheimer's disease (AD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) which leads to a progressive social dysfunction. In the present review we summarize present knowledge linking neurobiological substrates sustaining social functioning, social dysfunction and social withdrawal in major psychiatric disorders. Interestingly, AD, SCZ, and MDD affect the social brain in similar ways. Thus, social dysfunction and its most evident clinical expression (i.e., social withdrawal) may represent an innovative transdiagnostic domain, with the potential of being an independent entity in terms of biological roots, with the perspective of targeted interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10-33
Number of pages24
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
Issue number97
Early online date2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019

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