Reading minds versus following rules: Dissociating theory of mind and executive control in the brain

TitleReading minds versus following rules: Dissociating theory of mind and executive control in the brain
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsSaxe, R., Schulz L. E., & Jiang Y. V.
JournalSocial Neuroscience
Volume1
Issue3-4
Pagination284 - 298
Date Published09/2006
ISSN1747-0919
Abstract

The false belief task commonly used in the study of theory of mind (ToM) requires participants to select among competing responses and inhibit prepotent responses, giving rise to three possibilities: (1) the false belief tasks might require only executive function abilities and there may be no domain-specific component; (2) executive control might be necessary for the emergence of ToM in development but play no role in adult mental state inferences; and (3) executive control and domain-specific ToM abilities might both be implicated. We used fMRI in healthy adults to dissociate these possibilities. We found that non-overlapping brain regions were implicated selectively in response selection and belief attribution, that belief attribution tasks recruit brain regions associated with response selection as much as well-matched control tasks, and that regions associated with ToM (e.g., the right temporo-parietal junction) were implicated only in the belief attribution tasks. These results suggest that both domain-general and domain-specific cognitive resources are involved in adult ToM.

URLhttp://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17470910601000446
DOI10.1080/17470910601000446
Short TitleSocial Neuroscience

Download: