Two theories of mind


ScienceDaily has a report (here) on a paper by E. Kalbe and others in Cortex, Dissociating cognitive from affective theory of mind: A TMS study. The ability to infer what another person is thinking is an essential tool for social interaction and is known by neuroscientists as “Theory of Mind” (ToM).

The researchers then applied repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) to a part of the brain thought to be involved in rational inference — the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex — in order to interfere temporarily with the activity in that part of the brain and test its effect on the ToM abilities of the volunteers…The findings showed that the temporary interference in this particular area of the brain had an effect on the rational inference abilities (cognitive ToM) of the volunteers, but not on their abilities to infer emotions (affective ToM). … this suggests that certain skills and behaviours known as “executive functions,” such as cognitive flexibility and set-shifting, may be important while the brain is working out what someone else is thinking.

This does not tells us about the source of affective ToM.

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