2011 | 49 | 5 | 77-88
Article title

Is the executive function necessary for inferring mental states of other people? evidence from studies on patients with brain impairment

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Theory of mind (ToM) refers to the ability to represent the mental states of others. The Executive Function (EF) refers to higher-level cognitive processes encompassing planning, inhibition, coordination, shifting, and coordination of action sequences. Current studies on ToM and EF suggest that these two cognitive abilities might be functionally or anatomically linked. Although the relation between ToM and EF has been widely investigated, the results remain inconclusive particularly when considering the functional architecture of a mature brain system. The present study aims to seek this lacuna with the use of neuropsychological methodology. The pattern of ToM and EF defi cits within patients with brain injury were investigated. We compared the performance of four patients with a set of tasks examining theory of mind abilities and the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test (WCST) assessing EF functioning. Results yielded a dissociation between ToM and EF, suggesting that in an adults’ brain executive functions are not necessary for inferring the mental states of others.
Physical description
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