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Cognitive Neuroscience Seminar Series: Prof. Dan Hyde

Event Type
Cognitive Neuroscience Seminar Series
Beckman Institute Room 2269 (2nd floor tower room)
wifi event
Apr 15, 2024   12:00 pm  
Prof. Dan Hyde
Gabriele Gratton
Originating Calendar
Beckman Institute Calendar (internal events only)

Prof. Dan Hyde will lecture on "Neural Foundations for Theory of Mind."

Abstract: Successful human social life requires imagining what others believe or think to understand and predict behavior. Some suggest that this ability, often referred to as theory of mind, emerges only around 3-5 years of age when children become able to answer explicit questions about other people’s mental states. However, more implicit measures such as eye gaze suggest that children are sensitive to the mental states of others well before they can articulate this understanding, possibly even within the first year of life. A major challenge for understanding the nature and development of theory of mind has been reconciling the evidence from distinct measures in infants, children, and adults. I will present some of our work employing functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) in infants and adults in an attempt to better understand the nature of theory of mind across development. Specifically, I will present evidence from fNIRS with adults that a region of the right temporal-parietal junction (rTPJ), known to selectively respond to explicit theory of mind reasoning (and also verified in our study), spontaneously tracks the mental states of other people in a passive viewing task similar to that used in the infant literature. Next, I will present evidence of a strikingly similar functional rTPJ response in 7-8 month old infants passively viewing the same stimuli. Finally, I will present results from a recent longitudinal follow-up linking functional brain sensitivity in infants to later, explicit theory of mind reasoning abilities at 4-5 years of age. Together this work suggests that infants draw on similar core brain and cognitive mechanisms to spontaneously track beliefs as do adults do when explicitly reasoning about them.

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