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Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience

June 2009, Vol. 21, No. 6, Pages 1179-1192
(doi: 10.1162/jocn.2009.21082)
© 2008 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Temporo-parietal Junction Activity in Theory-of-Mind Tasks: Falseness, Beliefs, or Attention
Article PDF (181.68 KB)
Abstract

By combining the false belief (FB) and photo (PH) vignettes to identify theory-of-mind areas with the false sign (FS) vignettes, we re-establish the functional asymmetry between the left and right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ). The right TPJ (TPJ-R) is specially sensitive to processing belief information, whereas the left TPJ (TPJ-L) is equally responsible for FBs as well as FSs. Measuring BOLD at two time points in each vignette, at the time the FB-inducing information (or lack of information) is presented and at the time the test question is processed, made clear that the FB is processed spontaneously as soon as the relevant information is presented and not on demand for answering the question in contrast to extant behavioral data. Finally, a fourth, true belief vignette (TB) required teleological reasoning, that is, prediction of a rational action without any doubts being raised about the adequacy of the actor's information about reality. Activation by this vignette supported claims that the TPJ-R is activated by TBs as well as FBs.