Theory of mind, language and the temporoparietal junction mystery

Trends Cogn Sci. 2008 Apr;12(4):123-6. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2008.02.001. Epub 2008 Mar 10.


Brain imaging of adults during false-belief story tasks consistently shows activation of the temporoparietal junction in English-speaking Americans and German-speaking Europeans. Kobayashi et al. find this observation in adult English speakers but not in English-speaking children or in English-Japanese bilingual persons. This finding suggests a cultural or linguistic influence on location of brain function and argues against maturation of innately specified neural substrates. It is reminiscent of effects of linguistic development, bilingualism and cultural differences on theory of mind development.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Brain Mapping
  • Child
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Humans
  • Language*
  • Multilingualism*
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology*
  • Personal Construct Theory*
  • Social Environment
  • Social Values
  • Temporal Lobe / physiology*