Distinct regions of right temporo-parietal junction are selective for theory of mind and exogenous attention
Author(s)Triantafyllou, Christina; Brown, Emery N.; Whitfield-Gabrieli, Susan; Scholz, Jonathan; Saxe, Rebecca R.
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In functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies, a cortical region in the right temporo-parietal junction (RTPJ) is recruited when participants read stories about people's thoughts (‘Theory of Mind’). Both fMRI and lesion studies suggest that a region near the RTPJ is associated with attentional reorienting in response to an unexpected stimulus. Do Theory of Mind and attentional reorienting recruit a single population of neurons, or are there two neighboring but distinct neural populations in the RTPJ? One recent study compared these activations, and found evidence consistent with a single common region. However, the apparent overlap may have been due to the low resolution of the previous technique. We tested this hypothesis using a high-resolution protocol, within-subjects analyses, and more powerful statistical methods. Strict conjunction analyses revealed that the area of overlap was small and on the periphery of each activation. In addition, a bootstrap analysis identified a reliable 6–10 mm spatial displacement between the peak activations of the two tasks; the same magnitude and direction of displacement was observed in within-subjects comparisons. In all, these results suggest that there are neighboring but distinct regions within the RTPJ implicated in Theory of Mind and orienting attention.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences; McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT
Public Library of Science
Scholz, Jonathan et al. “Distinct Regions of Right Temporo-Parietal Junction Are Selective for Theory of Mind and Exogenous Attention.” PLoS ONE 4.3 (2009): e4869.
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