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Trends Cogn Sci. 2015 Feb;19(2):65-72. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2014.11.007. Epub 2014 Dec 11.

Deconstructing and reconstructing theory of mind.

Author information

1
The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, New York, NY 10065, USA.
2
California Institute Of Technology, 1200 East California Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA.
3
California Institute Of Technology, 1200 East California Boulevard, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA. Electronic address: radolphs@hss.caltech.edu.

Abstract

Usage of the term 'theory of mind' (ToM) has exploded across fields ranging from developmental psychology to social neuroscience and psychiatry research. However, its meaning is often vague and inconsistent, its biological bases are a subject of debate, and the methods used to study it are highly heterogeneous. Most crucially, its original definition does not permit easy downward translation to more basic processes such as those studied by behavioral neuroscience, leaving the interpretation of neuroimaging results opaque. We argue for a reformulation of ToM through a systematic two-stage approach, beginning with a deconstruction of the construct into a comprehensive set of basic component processes, followed by a complementary reconstruction from which a scientifically tractable concept of ToM can be recovered.

PMID:
25496670
PMCID:
PMC4314437
DOI:
10.1016/j.tics.2014.11.007
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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