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Theory of Mind Essay

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❶Maybe that's why we're at this point now where everybody's afraid to say anything to anybody else for fear of offending them? The prefrontal cortex is thought to be involved in planning and decision-making.

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Theory of Mind
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Within the false-photograph task, either a location or identity change exists. While the photograph is developing, the examiner moves the object to a different location e. The examiner asks the child two control questions: The subject is also asked a "false-photograph" question: However, the last question might be misinterpreted as: To make it easier for animals, young children, and individuals with classical Kanner-type autism to understand and perform theory of mind tasks, researchers have developed tests in which verbal communication is de-emphasized: One category of tasks uses a preferential looking paradigm, with looking time as the dependent variable.

For instance, 9-month-old infants prefer looking at behaviors performed by a human hand over those made by an inanimate hand-like object. Recent research on the early precursors of theory of mind has looked at innovative ways at capturing preverbal infants' understanding of other people's mental states, including perception and beliefs.

Using a variety of experimental procedures, studies have shown that infants from their first year of life have an implicit understanding of what other people see [56] and what they know. Therefore, their looking-times measures would give researchers an indication of what infants might be inferring, or their implicit understanding of events.

One recent study using this paradigm found that month-olds tend to attribute beliefs to a person whose visual perception was previously witnessed as being "reliable", compared to someone whose visual perception was "unreliable".

Specifically, month-olds were trained to expect a person's excited vocalization and gaze into a container to be associated with finding a toy in the reliable-looker condition or an absence of a toy in the unreliable-looker condition. Following this training phase, infants witnessed, in an object-search task, the same persons either searching for a toy in the correct or incorrect location after they both witnessed the location of where the toy was hidden.

Infants who experienced the reliable looker were surprised and therefore looked longer when the person searched for the toy in the incorrect location compared to the correct location. In contrast, the looking time for infants who experienced the unreliable looker did not differ for either search locations. These findings suggest that month-old infants can differentially attribute beliefs about a toy's location based on the person's prior record of visual perception.

The theory of mind impairment describes a difficulty someone would have with perspective-taking. This is also sometimes referred to as mind-blindness. This means that individuals with a theory of mind impairment would have a difficult time seeing phenomena from any other perspective than their own.

Theory of mind deficits have also been observed in deaf children who are late signers i. Leslie and Uta Frith suggested that children with autism do not employ theory of mind [48] and suggested that autistic children have particular difficulties with tasks requiring the child to understand another person's beliefs. These difficulties persist when children are matched for verbal skills [63] and have been taken as a key feature of autism. Many individuals classified as autistic have severe difficulty assigning mental states to others, and they seem to lack theory of mind capabilities.

One account assumes that theory of mind plays a role in the attribution of mental states to others and in childhood pretend play. This might explain why some autistic individuals show extreme deficits in both theory of mind and pretend play. However, Hobson proposes a social-affective justification, [66] which suggests that with an autistic person, deficits in theory of mind result from a distortion in understanding and responding to emotions. He suggests that typically developing human beings, unlike autistic individuals, are born with a set of skills such as social referencing ability that later lets them comprehend and react to other people's feelings.

Other scholars emphasize that autism involves a specific developmental delay, so that autistic children vary in their deficiencies, because they experience difficulty in different stages of growth. Very early setbacks can alter proper advancement of joint-attention behaviors, which may lead to a failure to form a full theory of mind. It has been speculated [55] that Theory of Mind exists on a continuum as opposed to the traditional view of a discrete presence or absence.

While some research has suggested that some autistic populations are unable to attribute mental states to others, [6] recent evidence points to the possibility of coping mechanisms that facilitate a spectrum of mindful behavior.

Generally, children with more advanced theory of mind abilities display more advanced social skills, greater adaptability to new situations, and greater cooperation with others. As a result, these children are typically well-liked. Peer-mediated interventions PMI are a school-based treatment approach for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder in which peers are trained to be role models in order to promote social behavior.

Selecting children with advanced theory of mind skills who use them in prosocial ways will theoretically make the program more effective.

While the results indicated that analyzing the social uses of theory of mind of possible candidates for a PMI program is invaluable, it may not be a good predictor of a candidate's performance as a role model. The autistic deficit in Theory of Mind has been challenged by some, who cite both insufficient evidence and contradictory evidence. Individuals with the diagnosis of schizophrenia can show deficits in theory of mind.

Mirjam Sprong and colleagues investigated the impairment by examining 29 different studies, with a total of over participants. They performed poorly on false-belief tasks, which test the ability to understand that others can hold false beliefs about events in the world, and also on intention-inference tasks, which assess the ability to infer a character's intention from reading a short story. Schizophrenia patients with negative symptoms , such as lack of emotion, motivation, or speech, have the most impairment in theory of mind and are unable to represent the mental states of themselves and of others.

Paranoid schizophrenic patients also perform poorly because they have difficulty accurately interpreting others' intentions. The meta-analysis additionally showed that IQ, gender, and age of the participants does not significantly affect the performance of theory of mind tasks. Current research suggests that impairment in theory of mind negatively affects clinical insight, the patient's awareness of their mental illness. Therapies that teach patients perspective-taking and self-reflection skills can improve abilities in reading social cues and taking the perspective of another person.

The majority of the current literature supports the argument that the theory of mind deficit is a stable trait-characteristic rather than a state-characteristic of schizophrenia. The results indicate that the deficit is not merely a consequence of the active phase of schizophrenia. Schizophrenic patients' deficit in theory of mind impairs their daily interactions with others. An example of a disrupted interaction is one between a schizophrenic parent and a child.

Theory of mind is particularly important for parents, who must understand the thoughts and behaviors of their children and react accordingly. Dysfunctional parenting is associated with deficits in the first-order theory of mind, the ability to understand another person's thoughts, and the second-order theory of mind, the ability to infer what one person thinks about another person's thoughts. Impairments in theory of mind, as well as other social-cognitive deficits are commonly found in people suffering from alcoholism , due to the neurotoxic effects of alcohol on the brain, particularly the prefrontal cortex.

Individuals in a current major depressive episode , a disorder characterized by social impairment, show deficits in theory of mind decoding. The opposite pattern, enhanced theory of mind, is observed in individuals vulnerable to depression, including those individuals with past Major Depressive Disorder MDD , [ citation needed ] dysphoric individuals, [80] and individuals with a maternal history of MDD. Children diagnosed with specific language impairment SLI exhibit much lower scores on reading and writing sections of standardized tests, yet have a normal nonverbal IQ.

These language deficits can be any specific deficits in lexical semantics, syntax, or pragmatics, or a combination of multiple problems. They often exhibit poorer social skills than normally developing children, and seem to have problems decoding beliefs in others. A recent meta-analysis confirmed that children with SLI have substantially lower scores on theory of mind tasks compared to typically developing children.

Research on theory of mind in autism led to the view that mentalizing abilities are subserved by dedicated mechanisms that can -in some cases- be impaired while general cognitive function remains largely intact. Neuroimaging research has supported this view, demonstrating specific brain regions consistently engaged during theory of mind tasks. Studies from Rebecca Saxe 's lab at MIT, using a false-belief versus false-photograph task contrast aimed at isolating the mentalizing component of the false-belief task, have very consistently found activation in mPFC, precuneus, and temporo-parietal junction TPJ , right-lateralized.

However, it is possible that the observation of overlapping regions for representing beliefs and attentional reorienting may simply be due to adjacent, but distinct, neuronal populations that code for each. In a study following Decety and Mitchell, Saxe and colleagues used higher-resolution fMRI and showed that the peak of activation for attentional reorienting is approximately mm above the peak for representing beliefs. Further corroborating that differing populations of neurons may code for each process, they found no similarity in the patterning of fMRI response across space.

Functional imaging has also been used to study the detection of mental state information in Heider-Simmel-esque animations of moving geometric shapes, which typical humans automatically perceive as social interactions laden with intention and emotion. Three studies found remarkably similar patterns of activation during the perception of such animations versus a random or deterministic motion control: A separate body of research has implicated the posterior superior temporal sulcus in the perception of intentionality in human action; this area is also involved in perceiving biological motion, including body, eye, mouth, and point-light display motion.

The incongruent actions, on the other hand, require further explanation why would someone twist empty space next to a gear? Note that this region is distinct from the temporo-parietal area activated during false belief tasks. Neuropsychological evidence has provided support for neuroimaging results regarding the neural basis of theory of mind. Studies with patients suffering from a lesion of the frontal lobes and the temporoparietal junction of the brain between the temporal lobe and parietal lobe reported that they have difficulty with some theory of mind tasks.

However, the fact that the medial prefrontal cortex and temporoparietal junction are necessary for theory of mind tasks does not imply that these regions are specific to that function.

Research by Vittorio Gallese , Luciano Fadiga and Giacomo Rizzolatti reviewed in [] has shown that some sensorimotor neurons , which are referred to as mirror neurons , first discovered in the premotor cortex of rhesus monkeys , may be involved in action understanding. Single-electrode recording revealed that these neurons fired when a monkey performed an action, as well as when the monkey viewed another agent carrying out the same task.

Similarly, fMRI studies with human participants have shown brain regions assumed to contain mirror neurons that are active when one person sees another person's goal-directed action.

However, there is also evidence against the link between mirror neurons and theory of mind. First, macaque monkeys have mirror neurons but do not seem to have a 'human-like' capacity to understand theory of mind and belief. Some investigators, like developmental psychologist Andrew Meltzoff and neuroscientist Jean Decety , believe that mirror neurons merely facilitate learning through imitation and may provide a precursor to the development of Theory of Mind.

However, in a recent paper, Keren Haroush and Ziv Williams outlined the case for a group of neurons in primates' brains that uniquely predicted the choice selection of their interacting partner. These primates' neurons, located in the anterior cingulate cortex of rhesus monkeys, were observed using single-unit recording while the monkeys played a variant of the iterative prisoner's dilemma game. Several neuroimaging studies have looked at the neural basis theory of mind impairment in subjects with Asperger syndrome and high-functioning autism HFA.

The first PET study of theory of mind in autism also the first neuroimaging study using a task-induced activation paradigm in autism replicated a prior study in normal individuals, which employed a story-comprehension task.

However, because the study used only six subjects with autism, and because the spatial resolution of PET imaging is relatively poor, these results should be considered preliminary. A subsequent fMRI study scanned normally developing adults and adults with HFA while performing a "reading the mind in the eyes" task: A more recent PET study looked at brain activity in individuals with HFA and Asperger syndrome while viewing Heider-Simmel animations see above versus a random motion control.

Activity in extrastriate regions V3 and LO was identical across the two groups, suggesting intact lower-level visual processing in the subjects with autism. The study also reported significantly less functional connectivity between STS and V3 in the autism group. Note, however, that decreased temporal correlation between activity in STS and V3 would be expected simply from the lack of an evoked response in STS to intent-laden animations in subjects with autism.

A more informative analysis would be to compute functional connectivity after regressing out evoked responses from all-time series. Both explanations involve an impairment in the ability to link eye gaze shifts with intentional explanations. This study also found a significant anticorrelation between STS activation in the incongruent-congruent contrast and social subscale score on the Autism Diagnostic Interview-Revised , but not scores on the other subscales. In , an fMRI study demonstrated that the right temporoparietal junction rTPJ of higher-functioning adults with autism was not more selectively activated for mentalizing judgments when compared to physical judgments about self and other.

This evidence builds on work in typical development that suggests rTPJ is critical for representing mental state information, irrespective of whether it is about oneself or others. It also points to an explanation at the neural level for the pervasive mind-blindness difficulties in autism that are evident throughout the lifespan. The brain regions associated with theory of mind include the superior temporal gyrus STS , the temporoparietal junction TPJ , the medial prefrontal cortex MPFC , the precuneus, and the amygdala.

Group member average scores of theory of mind abilities, measured with the Reading the Mind in the Eyes test [] RME , are suggested as drivers of successful group performance. RME is a Theory of Mind test for adults [] that shows sufficient test-retest reliability [] and constantly differentiates control groups from individuals with functional autism or Asperger syndrome.

The evolutionary origin of theory of mind remains obscure. While many theories make claims about its role in the development of human language and social cognition few of them specify in detail any evolutionary neurophysiological precursors. A recent theory claims that Theory of Mind has its roots in two defensive reactions, namely immobilization stress and tonic immobility, which are implicated in the handling of stressful encounters and also figure prominently in mammalian childrearing practices Tsoukalas, An open question is if other animals besides humans have a genetic endowment and social environment that allows them to acquire a theory of mind in the same way that human children do.

One difficulty with non-human studies of Theory of Mind is the lack of sufficient numbers of naturalistic observations, giving insight into what the evolutionary pressures might be on a species' development of theory of mind.

Non-human research still has a major place in this field, however, and is especially useful in illuminating which nonverbal behaviors signify components of theory of mind, and in pointing to possible stepping points in the evolution of what many claim to be a uniquely human aspect of social cognition.

While it is difficult to study human-like theory of mind and mental states in species whose potential mental states we have an incomplete understanding, researchers can focus on simpler components of more complex capabilities. For example, many researchers focus on animals' understanding of intention, gaze, perspective, or knowledge or rather, what another being has seen. Call and Tomasello's study [21] that looked at understanding of intention in orangutans, chimpanzees and children showed that all three species understood the difference between accidental and intentional acts.

Part of the difficulty in this line of research is that observed phenomena can often be explained as simple stimulus-response learning, as it is in the nature of any theorizers of mind to have to extrapolate internal mental states from observable behavior. Recently, most non-human theory of mind research has focused on monkeys and great apes, who are of most interest in the study of the evolution of human social cognition.

Other studies relevant to attributions theory of mind have been conducted using plovers [] and dogs, [] and have shown preliminary evidence of understanding attention—one precursor of theory of mind—in others. There has been some controversy over the interpretation of evidence purporting to show theory of mind ability—or inability—in animals.

They found that the animals failed in most cases to differentially request food from the "knower". By contrast, Hare, Call, and Tomasello [] found that subordinate chimpanzees were able to use the knowledge state of dominant rival chimpanzees to determine which container of hidden food they approached.

William Field and Sue Savage-Rumbaugh have no doubt that bonobos have developed Theory of Mind and cite their communications with a well known captive bonobo, Kanzi , as evidence.

In a experiment, ravens Corvus corax were shown to take into account visual access of unseen conspecifics. It is suspected that "ravens can generalize from their own perceptual experience to infer the possibility of being seen". A study published by evolutionary anthropologist Christopher Krupenye brings new light to the existence of Theory of Mind, and particularly false beliefs, in non-human primates.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Animal consciousness and Theory of mind in animals. Behavioral and Brain Sciences , special issue: Cognition and Consiousness in Nonhuman Species. Developmental cognitive neuroscience of Theory of Mind. Neural Circuit Development and Function in the Brain: J Stud Alcohol Drugs.

Understanding attention in others", in Whiten, Andrew, Natural theories of mind: Intention in the structure of action and interaction. Theories of theories of mind. The case of theories of mind". Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education. Lessons from the appearance-reality and false belief tasks". The development of mental processing.

Methods in the study of life-span human development: Volume 1 of the Handbook of life-span development pp. A post-Skinnerian account of human language and cognition. Applications for learners with autism and other developmental disabilities. The self and perspective-taking: Contributions and applications from modern behavioral science. Association for Contextual Behavioral Science. Retrieved March 29, The Panglossian paradigm defended to p.

The Brain and Behavioral Sciences. Journal of Comparative Psychology. Re-enactment of intended acts by month-old children". Knowledge attribution versus stimulus control in adult humans Homo sapiens ". Origins of empathy, theory of mind, and the representation of action", in Goswami, Usha, Blackwell handbook of childhood cognitive development , Malden, Massachusetts: Imitation and intention in humans and other animals".

American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. The role of the temporo-parietal junction in "theory of mind " ". Synchrony in the onset of mental-state reasoning: Evidence from five cultures. Psychological Science , 16 5 , Psychological Science , 17 12 , — Representation and constraining function of wrong beliefs in young children's understanding of deception".

Gavin, An introduction to developmental psychology 3rd ed. It could be argued that Theory of Mind is one of the key theories on the forefront of unlocking how to teach and socialize in accordance with developmental milestones based on the notion of when children can begin to integrate interpersonal perspective-taking within their social and learning framework.

Theorists argue that hindsight bias bears a striking resemblance and connection to Theory of Mind and the types of errors that young children make in Theory of Mind reasoning. These errors demonstrate that young children who are taught new information are unable to recall which information they have known longer, information they learned moments before, or information they have known for a long time Taylor et al, Moreover, these deficits spill over into their judgments regarding the knowledge of other people.

For example, it has been demonstrated that preschool children tend to behave as if seeing a small uninformative part of an object is sufficient for someone else to know the object's identity Taylor, regardless of the age or identity of the person with whom they are sharing joint attention.

In order to help children develop Theory of Mind, lessons could be constructed in the classroom using quadrants of pictures or art. Children could then be asked to determine the full object based on their model of perception. Misperceptions and myths could then be dispelled using this lesson framework. This lesson could be utilized at various ages to facilitate perception development for older students as well as younger students.

From an educational perspective, it should be noted that Theory of Mind changes as children age. Generally, four-and-five-year-olds tend to perform much better on Theory of Mind tasks. However, in other studies of Theory of Mind task correlations were established between children's Theory of Mind and adult's Hindsight bias.

Birch and Bloom demonstrated that when sensitive measures are used, adults can also experience difficulty reasoning about false beliefs. Other studies have demonstrated an even more cogent relationship between age and developmental stages. According to other Theory of Mind research, in order to successfully complete many Theory of Mind tasks, children must reach a developmental stage termed as Level 5. Evidence of this can be found from research that has been done to better understand deception.

From a Theory of Mind construct, deception involves the deliberate planning and communication of a false belief to another. In order to deceive, Theory of Mind researchers delve further into the complex cognitive abilities that produce deception. Theorists posture that deception requires a myriad of complex intra-personal perspective taking. First, in order to deceive, a child must be able to take the perspective of another individual to determine what the other person will believe from the information provided.

Second, the child must be able to reason within the framework of "if-then relation" controlling the transfer of information. Third, the child must be able to transfer information in accordance with a "relation of distinction" McHugh et al, , p. Again, this research indicates that very young children are impaired in their ability to take the perspectives of others p.

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Theory of mind (ToM) is a specific cognitive ability to understand that other people have different intentions, desires and beliefs to one's own. Theory of mind has been argued to be an innate, potential human ability but requires things such as language, social interaction and experience to develop.

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An overview of Theory of Mind and its role and impacts on student learning in public school education environments is presented. Also presented is a brief look at the current research pertaining to Theory of Mind and its relationship to children and their developmental processes.

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2 1. Introduction. ‘Theory of Mind’ refers to the cognitive capacity to attribute mental states to self and others. Other names for the same . Theory of Mind also allows us to interact with success with other humans and how to understand how someone is feeling from their actions. With the evidence and explanations provided Theory of Mind is an advantage to modern humans as its adaptive function may be to allow individuals to survive longer and therefore create more .

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In brief, having a theory of mind is to be able to reflect on the contents of one's own and other's minds." For many of those with autism or Asperger's, In a research paper. This is called Theory of Mind, or TOM. This theory was first developed to investigate autism and to further understand primates. It was suggested that those who do not posses TOM were the victims of autism. (Tirapu-Ustarroz et. al. ) Other scientists suggest that what separates mankind from primates is that mankind possesses a “species .