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Trends Cogn Sci. 2003 Feb;7(2):77-83.

Functional imaging of 'theory of mind'

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School of Health and Social Care, Glasgow Caledonian University, 70 Cowcaddens Road, G4 0BA, Glasgow, UK


Our ability to explain and predict other people's behaviour by attributing to them independent mental states, such as beliefs and desires, is known as having a 'theory of mind'. Interest in this very human ability has engendered a growing body of evidence concerning its evolution and development and the biological basis of the mechanisms underpinning it. Functional imaging has played a key role in seeking to isolate brain regions specific to this ability. Three areas are consistently activated in association with theory of mind. These are the anterior paracingulate cortex, the superior temporal sulci and the temporal poles bilaterally. This review discusses the functional significance of each of these areas within a social cognitive network.

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