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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2002 Jun;3(6):463-71.

Neural systems involved in "theory of mind".

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Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TP, UK.


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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