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Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 Nov 1;7:712. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00712. eCollection 2013.

Common brain areas engaged in false belief reasoning and visual perspective taking: a meta-analysis of functional brain imaging studies.

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Center for Neurocognitive Research, University of Salzburg Salzburg, Austria ; Department of Psychology, University of Salzburg Salzburg, Austria.


We performed a quantitative meta-analysis of functional neuroimaging studies to identify brain areas which are commonly engaged in social and visuo-spatial perspective taking. Specifically, we compared brain activation for visual-perspective taking to activation for false belief reasoning, which requires awareness of perspective to understand someone's mistaken belief about the world which contrasts with reality. In support of a previous account by Perner and Leekam (2008), our meta-analytic conjunction analysis found common activation for false belief reasoning and visual perspective taking in the left but not the right dorsal temporo-parietal junction (TPJ). This fits with the idea that the left dorsal TPJ is responsible for representing different perspectives in a domain-general fashion. Moreover, our conjunction analysis found activation in the precuneus and the left middle occipital gyrus close to the putative Extrastriate Body Area (EBA). The precuneus is linked to mental-imagery which may aid in the construction of a different perspective. The EBA may be engaged due to imagined body-transformations when another's viewpoint is adopted.


false belief; neuroimaging meta-analysis; temporo-parietal junction; theory of mind; visual perspective taking

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