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

Abstract

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.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

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

References

  1. 1

    Fletcher P.C. et al. Cognition 57, 109–128 (1995).

  2. 2

    Gallagher, H.L. et al. Neuropsychologia 38, 11–21 (2000).

  3. 3

    Stone, V.E., Baron-Cohen, S. & Knight, R.T. J. Cogn. Neurosci. 10, 640–656 (1998).

  4. 4

    Rowe, A.D., Bullock, P.R., Polkey, C.E. & Morris, R.G. Brain 124, 600–616 (2001).

  5. 5

    Saxe, R. & Kanwisher, N. Neuroimage 19, 1835–1842 (2003).

  6. 6

    Allison, T., Puce, A. & McCarthy, G. Trends Cogn. Sci. 4, 267–278 (2000).

  7. 7

    Frith, C.D. & Frith, U. Science 286, 1692–1695 (1999).

  8. 8

    Carlson, S.M., Moses, L.J. & Hix, H.R. Child Dev. 69, 672–691 (1998).

  9. 9

    Riggs, K.J., Peterson, D.M., Robinson, E.J. & Mitchell, P. Cognit. Dev. 13, 73–90 (1998).

  10. 10

    Peterson, D.M. & Riggs, K.J. Mind Lang. 14, 80–112 (1999).

  11. 11

    Kay, J., Lesser, R. & Coltheart, M. Psycholinguistic Assessment of Language Processing in Aphasia (Lawrence Erlbaum, Hove, 1992).

  12. 12

    Burgess, P.W. & Shallice, T. The Hayling and Brixton Tests (Thames Valley Test Company, Bury St. Edmunds, 1997).

  13. 13

    Baron-Cohen, S., Wheelwright, S. & Jolliffe, T. Vis. Cogn. 4, 311–331 (1997).

  14. 14

    Baron-Cohen, S., Wheelwright, S. & Hill, J. J. Child Psychol. Psychiatry 42, 241–252 (2001).

Download references

Acknowledgements

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.

Author information

Correspondence to Dana Samson.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

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)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

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). https://doi.org/10.1038/nn1223

Download citation

Further reading