Social cognition is the study of how people process social information, especially its encoding, storage, retrieval, and application to social situations.
There has been much recent interest in the links between social cognition and brain function, particularly as neuropsychological studies have shown that brain injury (particularly to the frontal lobes) can adversely affect social judgements and interaction.
People diagnosed with certain mental illnesses are also known to show differences in how they process social information.
There is now an expanding research field examining how such conditions may bias cognitive processes involved in social interaction, or conversely, how such biases may lead to the symptoms associated with the condition.
It is also becoming clear that some aspects of psychological processes that promote social behaviour (such as face recognition) may be innate.
Studies have shown that newborn babies, younger than one hour old can selectively recognize and respond to faces, while people with some developmental disorders such as autism or Williams syndrome may show differences in social interaction and social communication when compared to their unaffected peers.