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Publication Detail
Neural systems involved in "theory of mind".
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Publication Sub Type:
    Journal Article
  • Authors:
    Siegal M, Varley R
  • Publication date:
  • Pagination:
    463, 471
  • Journal:
    Nat Rev Neurosci
  • Volume:
  • Issue:
  • Status:
  • Country:
  • Print ISSN:
  • PII:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    Amygdala, Autistic Disorder, Cerebral Cortex, Deafness, Functional Laterality, Humans, Models, Neurological, Nerve Net, Neural Pathways, Psychophysiology, Social Behavior, Verbal Behavior
What is the nature of our ability to understand and reason about the beliefs of others--the possession of a "theory of mind", or ToM? Here, we review findings from imaging and lesion studies indicating that ToM reasoning is supported by a widely distributed neural system. Some functional components of this system, such as language-related regions of the left hemisphere, the frontal lobes and the right temporal parietal cortex, are not solely dedicated to the computation of mental states. However, the system also includes a core, domain-specific component that is centred on the amygdala circuitry. We provide a framework in which impairments of ToM can be viewed in terms of abnormalities of the core system, the failure of a co-opted system that is necessary for performance on a particular set of tasks, or the absence of an experiential trigger for the emergence of ToM.
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