An evaluation of neurocognitive models of theory of mind

Front Psychol. 2015 Oct 31;6:1610. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01610. eCollection 2015.


We review nine current neurocognitive theories of how theory of mind (ToM) is implemented in the brain and evaluate them based on the results from a recent meta-analysis by Schurz et al. (2014), where we identified six types of tasks that are the most frequently used in imaging research on ToM. From theories about cognitive processes being associated with certain brain areas, we deduce predictions about which areas should be engaged by the different types of ToM tasks. We then compare these predictions with the observed activations in the meta-analysis, and identify a number of unexplained findings in current theories. These can be used to revise and improve future neurocognitive accounts of ToM.

Keywords: medial prefrontal cortex; mentalizing; meta-analysis; neurocognitive theories; task-categories; temporoparietal junction; theory of mind.

Publication types

  • Review