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Title: Investigating the neural correlates of 'theory of mind'
Author: Gallagher, Helen Louise
ISNI:       0000 0001 3486 9255
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2003
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This thesis presents a series of studies that examine the neural correlates of "theory of mind". This is the ability to attribute independent mental states to self and others in order to explain and predict behaviour. It is an automatic and universal function in humans and a fundamental element of social cognition. It has been proposed that theory of mind ability arises from an innate, dedicated, domain-specific, and possibly modular cognitive mechanism (Fodor, 1991; Leslie and Thaiss, 1992). This proposal gains particular support from studies of autism, a biologically based developmental disorder that appears to be characterised by a selective impairment in theory of mind. Frith (1991) has suggested that this impairment accounts for almost all of the abnormal social, communicative and imaginative behaviour manifest by individuals with autism. This thesis describes five experiments investigating the behavioural and biological characteristics of theory of mind ability. These studies support Leslie's notion of a dedicated cognitive mechanism, indicating that a circumscribed region of the anterior paracingulate cortex mediates this mechanism. The studies also demonstrate that this region forms part of a distributed neural network associated with social perception. The results from these studies are discussed in relation to the cognitive mechanisms underpinning our everyday ability to 'mind-read'.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available