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21 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back

What is theory of mind?

What is central to successful social interaction?

What do we need to understand to understand others actions?

What are theories of mental states?

Why is it a theory?

The ability to explain, predict and interpret actions and mental states such as beliefs, desires, intentions and emotions

Predicting how others will act

Their mental states

Are only theories and can be wrong but without theories of what others belief, desire and want their behaviour would be very difficult to understand

Because we are only making predictions from unobservable traits

What is belief-desire reasoning?

What were false belief tasks introduce to investigate?

What are false belief tasks considered to provide?

What do they require the participant to do?

How does this relate to Autism?

Give a study example:

Where people act to fulfil their desires in light of their beliefs, if we know peoples beliefs and desires we can predict how they will act

When and how theory of mind develops in children

The best test of understanding others mental states

Predict how someone who has a different belief to their own will act i.e. the correct answer cannot be based on ones own mental state

It is proposed that the ability to understand others mental states is impaired so individuals with Autism will fail false belief tasks

Baron-Cohen 2001 reading the mind in the eyes task

What are two common false belief tasks?

What is the Maxi task?

Who conducted a meta analysis on results of these tasks and what did they find?

What can make a difference to the result?

Sally-Anne task and the Maxi task

Maxi and mum, mum uses bought chocolate to make a cake, where will maxi look for the chocolate?

Wellman et al 2001

Typically developing children do not answer correctly until the ages of four and five years

Factors to do with how the task is presented

What is the unexpected content task?

What did Baron-Cohen et al in 1985 do and what did he find?

Who else found the same result?

Smarties tube task- Most children of 3 years old fail

He compared typically developing children to those with DS and Autism in the Sally-Anne task at age 5, 85% correct in typical, 86% correct in down syndrome (mentally aged matched) 20% correct in Autism aged 11

Yirmiva 1998 - Typical greater than down sydrome, greater than autism

What must children do in order to pass this test? (three things)

What are the three theories of how children learn theory of the mind?

1.Must be able to attribute to the character a belief different from their own (and false from their point of view)
2. Recognise that the characters belief is what guides their actions
3. Recognise that peoples relationship with the world is mediated by their mental representations - they act not based on how things are but on how they think they are

1. The theory theory - Gopnick and Wellman '94
2. Simulation theory Harris 1992
3. Modularity theory

What is the theory theory?

What is the Simulation theory?


1. Is the idea that acquiring a theory of mind is analogous to the theory of development in science i.e. childen collect evidence and refine their hypothesis based on this evidence

2. Theory of mind depends on being able to imagine the others point of view, i.e. to simulate another persons mental states

3. Theory of mind is an innate human cognitive capacity (the one that needs to mature), the theory of mind module can be impaired in developmental disorders

What predicts when children will pass? (two things)

1. Language skills and executive function (Hughes and Ensor 2007) - Better executive function predicts passing theory of mind - in line with the requirements to select correct/inhibit incorrect response

2. Home environment and parenting styles - Parents who explain and discuss vs just punishment (Ruffman et al 1999), securely attached infants (Fonagy et al 1999) and maternal mind-mindedness (Miens et al 2002) all predict better theory of mind

When are abilities to reflective/explicitly relate shown?

When are implicit components of theory of mind shown?

When has implicit understanding been found?

Who argued this and what did they do?

Who else argued this? What did they do?
What did they find?

Age 4-5 years theory of mind

Much younger at under 18 months

9 months to 3 years

Lizcowski et al 2006, found 12-18 month olds point to provide information to another person regarding the location of an object they are looking for, the pointing suggests ability to understand theory of mind of the adult searching

Tomasellow and Haberl 2003 - Got infants 12-18months to play with two adults and two new toys, third toy was introduced while one adult left the room, adult returns very excited then asked for the object- prediction, if child supplies the right object, they know the object was new and exciting for the adult

Both ages were successful

What did Bloom and German 2000 argue?

What happened because of this?

What did Onishi and Ballargeon 2005 do?

What did they find?

What did this show?

To solve false belief a child must follow the actions of two characters in a narrative, they must appreciate that sally could not observe the switch, remember where the toy was and is now and understand the question

Therefore other methods have been used for whether infants understand false beliefs

Used looking-time, the infant watches actor put an object in a box, the object is moved or stays in the same box, the actor can either see what is happening or not, the actor reaches into one box or another

Infants looked longer when adults searched in the incorrect location as this violated expectation

Infants as young as 15 months can comprehend theory of mind

Who else measured implicit understand of theory of the mind?

What did they do?


Surian et al 2007

Infants watched animations in which a caterpillar was either provided information or prevented from gathering information about theactual location of food. The animal then searched successfully or failed to retrieve it.

Infants’looking times suggest that they expected searches to be effective when—and only when—the agenthad had access to the relevant information.

What are two criticisms for using looking-time to measure theory of mind?

1. Perceptual differences always remain betweenconditions that could explain looking time differences

2. The infants maynot represent false beliefs, but may just represent that the actor is ignorantof the true location*.Although given two locations an ignorant actor could be correct half the timeby chance, young children expect the ignorant person to be wrong rather than atchance.

Who used eye tracking to measure theory of the mind in infants?

What did they do?

What did they find?

What does this suggest?

Southgate et al 2007

Used eye tracking to record where on the screeninfants looked as they watched different “false belief” (and “true belief”)scenarios. Exploits the fact that eye movements tend to anticipatewhat will happen next – provides a way of measuring whereinfants think theactor is going to search

25-month-olds’ eye movements anticipate where the actorwill search, in line with understanding the actor’s false (and true) beliefs.

Good evidence thatat least by 2 years, there is understanding of false beliefs.

What is Aspergers syndrome?

What characterises the condition?

Who investigated ToM in Aspergers?

What did they do?

What does this suggest?

A type of autismspectrum disorder,with relatively preserved cognitive and language abilities

Impairmentin social interaction, but good cognitive abilities in individuals with AS often allow them tolearn and follow social norms in a deliberate manner.

Senju et al 2009

Used an eye-tracking task that has revealed thespontaneous ability to mentalize in typically developing infants. We showed that, like infants, typical adults’ eye movements anticipated an actor’s behaviour on thebasis of her false belief. This was not the case for individuals with Asperger syndrome.

These individuals do not attribute mental states spontaneously, but they may be able to do soin explicit tasks through compensatory learning.

Who found Apergers syndrome can solve ToM task?

What is this evidence for?

Bowler 1995

A dissociation between implicit and explicit understand of theory of mind, explicit can be learnt/can use strategies to solve

What 3 reasons have been given for the difference in evidence between explicit and implicit theory of mind skills?

1. The explicit tasks are wrong, they are failing because of extraneous cognitive demands
2. The implicit tasks are wrong, they can be explained more simply
3. The tasks measure different aspects of ToM

Who extended the Maxi task in order to investigate further development or second order mental states?

What is a second order mental state?

At what age are children able to represent and reason from second order beliefs?

1. Perner and Whimer 1985

X believes, that Y believes that Z

7 - 8 years

What does increasingly sophisticated reasoning about mental states help children to understand?

Who measured ToM in adults?

What is measured in adult ToM?

What was the task?

Result: (3 things)

1. Irony and metaphor (Speechin which the listeneris not intended to take the meaning literally)
2. White lies told to protect someones feelings
3. Social faux pas (unintentionally creating hurt feelings)

Surtees& Apperly,2012

As an alternative to creating increasingly complex TOMscenarios, researchers have measured how quickly adults work out the correct answer

Childrenand adults asked: how many dots can you see, OR how many dots can the charactersee

6- to 10-year-olds and adults:

-Faster to judge what character can see when consistentwith own perspective

-Faster to judge what they can see when consistent withcharacter’sperspective

-Although older children and adults faster overall, sizeof this effect remains the same across age groups

What does this study demonstrate?

Continuity between childhood TOM abilities and adult TOM (whereaswith most TOM tasks, analyses of correct/incorrect would usually suggest thatadults are at ceiling (no errors) and so different to children.

What is a mirror neuron?

Who found mirror neurons and how?

Who tested these neurons in autism and found they were impaired?

Who else investigated them and what did they find?

Mirror neuron is a type of neuron in the brain that responds when an action is being performed and also when the same action is observed

Rizzolatiet al, 1996 found in monkey ventral premotor cortex, by accident

Ramachandrun and Oberman 2006

Depretto et al 2006 they found reduced activity in area thought to be part of human mirror neuron system, the amount of acitivity correlated with symptom severity

What is the broken mirrors hypothesis?

What are the two problems with the broken mirrors hypothesis?

That autism is correlated with a broken mirror neuron system

1. Autistic children have wider problems than just the mirror neuron system (atypical face processing or attention to faces may contribute to different activation in MRI study and atypical low and mid level visual processing such as biological motion processing)
2. Autistic children are not unable to imitate-rather the problem is knowing when to imitate (southgate and Hamilton 2008)

What did Cantaneo et al 2007 do?

What did they find?


Used electromyographic recordings, we show that a chained organization exists in typically developing children, whereas it is impaired in children with autism.

We propose that, as a consequence of this functional impairment, high-functioning autistic children may understand the intentions of others cognitively but lack the mechanism for understanding them experientially.