I've read that one of the tests of animal intelligence is whether or not the animal recognizes itself in the mirror or can determine that other animals have motives other than it's own (ex: can deceive the animal).

At the same time I've recently heard the following idea from evolutionary psychology - a human female has "neural circuits" that can evaluate and signal the willingness of the male partner to commit long term to her and her offspring. It sounded like this process is entirely subconscious and results in a certain feeling which the woman can consciously act upon.

Additionally, it sounded like some of these circuits have evolved independently of each other, thus capable of leading to conflicting feelings when multiple circuits signal simultaneously.

This made me think - are "neural circuits" really capable of independently processing information in terms of other human being and his/her possible motives?

OR, do human neural circuits related to social cognition simply operate on concentrations of neuromodulators? In terms of the example above - maybe all these circuits are doing are detecting significant oxytocin spikes, keeping the guard up until these spikes are detected?

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    $\begingroup$ Do I understand you right that you have two questions, 1. Can a human recognize another as another and as having presumable motives? 2. Is this capability realized through the neural architecture? $\endgroup$ – huh Jun 30 '16 at 14:43
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    $\begingroup$ @huh Not quite - I'm interested if individual neural circuits can recognize the concept of other humans and their actions. An analogy might help - if we are talking about a computer that runs some programs, can one of these programs recognize the existence of another computer and operate in these terms? $\endgroup$ – Alex Stone Jul 5 '16 at 20:17

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