Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thinking About Other’s Minds

Rebecca Saxe is a neuroscientist at MIT, studying Theory of Mind. Theory of Mind is the understanding about how we think about ourselves and others, or as Simon Baron-Cohen phrased it in Theory of Mind in Normal Development and Autism, (2001), “to be able to reflect on the contents of one’s own and other’s minds.” This is an important concept from the viewpoint of autism and Asperger’s, because many researchers attribute deficits in Theory of Mind to some of the struggles those on the autism spectrum might be having.

Rebecca Saxe has been researching the brain using fMRI, and identified the region, called the Right Temporo-Parietal Junction, that is activated when we’re thinking about other’s thoughts You can hear a brief, but informative and entertaining talk by her on Ted.com, titled How We Read Each Other’s Minds. She talks about her work and also demonstrates some interviews with children of various stages of development. You have to register, but the site is free, and full of fascinating presentations.