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Left temporoparietal junction is necessary for representing someone else's belief


A standard view in the neuroscience literature is that the frontal lobes sustain our ability to process others' mental states such as beliefs, intentions and desires (this ability is often referred to as having 'theory of mind'). Here we report evidence from brain-damaged patients showing that, in addition to involvement of the frontal lobes, the left temporoparietal junction is necessary for reasoning about the beliefs of others.

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Figure 1: Performance scores for the three patients and controls (n = 3).

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This work was supported by grants from the Economic and Social Research Council, the Stroke Association and the Medical Research Council (UK). We thank all the patients for their participation as well as the reviewers for their comments.

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Correspondence to Dana Samson.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Fig. 1

Lesion reconstructions from MRI scans for the three patients. Lesions have been drawn onto standard slices1. Only slices 3 to 8 are reported. 1. Gado, M., Hanaway, J. & Frank, R. J. Comput. Assist. Tomogr. 3, 1-19 (1979). (JPG 135 kb)

Supplementary Methods (PDF 23 kb)

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Samson, D., Apperly, I., Chiavarino, C. et al. Left temporoparietal junction is necessary for representing someone else's belief. Nat Neurosci 7, 499–500 (2004).

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