Mentalizing under Uncertainty: Dissociated Neural Responses to Ambiguous and Unambiguous Mental State Inferences

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Mentalizing under Uncertainty: Dissociated Neural Responses to Ambiguous and Unambiguous Mental State Inferences

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Title: Mentalizing under Uncertainty: Dissociated Neural Responses to Ambiguous and Unambiguous Mental State Inferences
Author: Jenkins, Adrianna Christine; Mitchell, Jason Paul

Note: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.

Citation: Jenkins, Adrianna C., and Jason P. Mitchell. 2010. Mentalizing under Uncertainty: Dissociated Neural Responses to Ambiguous and Unambiguous Mental State Inferences. Cerebral Cortex (New York, NY) 20(2): 404-410.
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Abstract: The ability to read the minds of others (i.e., to mentalize) requires that perceivers understand a wide range of different kinds of mental states, including not only others’ beliefs and knowledge but also their feelings, desires, and preferences. Moreover, although such inferences may occasionally rely on observable features of a situation, perceivers more typically mentalize under conditions of “uncertainty,” in which they must generate plausible hypotheses about a target's mental state from ambiguous or otherwise underspecified information. Here, we use functional neuroimaging to dissociate the neural bases of these 2 distinct social–cognitive challenges: 1) mentalizing about different types of mental states (beliefs vs. preferences) and 2) mentalizing under conditions of varying ambiguity. Although these 2 aspects of mentalizing have typically been confounded in earlier research, we observed a double dissociation between the brain regions sensitive to type of mental state and ambiguity. Whereas ventral and dorsal aspects of medial prefrontal cortex responded more during ambiguous than unambiguous inferences regardless of the type of mental state, the right temporoparietal junction was sensitive to the distinction between beliefs and preferences irrespective of certainty. These results underscore the emerging consensus that, rather than comprising a single mental operation, social cognition makes flexible use of different processes as a function of the particular demands of the social context.
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhp109
Other Sources: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2803737/pdf/
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Open Access Policy Articles, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#OAP
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:4454178

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  • FAS Scholarly Articles [7106]
    Peer reviewed scholarly articles from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of Harvard University
 
 

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