Skip to content

Construct: Social Communication

RDoC Classification

Domain: Social Processes


A dynamic process that includes both receptive and productive aspects used for exchange of socially relevant information. Social communication is essential for the integration and maintenance of the individual in the social environment. This Construct is reciprocal and interactive, and social communication abilities may appear very early in life. Social communication is distinguishable from other cognitive systems (e.g., perception, cognitive control, memory, attention) in that it particularly involves interactions with conspecifics. The underlying neural substrates of social communication evolved to support both automatic/reflexive and volitional control, including the motivation and ability to engage in social communication. Receptive aspects may be implicit or explicit; examples include affect recognition, facial recognition and characterization. Productive aspects include eye contact, expressive reciprocation, and gaze following. Although facial communication was set aside as a separate sub-construct for the purposes of identifying matrix elements, social communication typically utilizes information from several modalities, including facial, vocal, gestural, postural, and olfactory processing.