It’s the thought that counts: progress in understanding the neural basis of thinking about thought


Rebecca Saxe


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Date: February 10, 2016


Perhaps one of the most surprising discoveries of early functional neuroimaging studies in humans was that a group of cortical regions, including bilateral temporal parietal junction (right and left TPJ) and medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), show preferential activity while people are thinking about other people’s thoughts. We now have extensive evidence concerning when, how much, and how selectively these regions are recruited in healthy adults. By contrast, not much is known about the representations and computations supported by the populations of neurons in these regions, or about how development in these neural populations supports the dramatic changes in social cognition that occur in childhood. I will describe some new directions of research in my lab aimed at characterizing the feature-space of mental state inferences, and using this feature-space as a window on social cognitive development.

Created: Friday, February 12th, 2016