Neural Basis of Theory of Mind: An eye gaze preference task
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This study considers the speculation made by previous researchers that ‘Theory of mind’ (ToM) could have a neural basis. ToM refers to our capacity to make inferences regarding other individuals’ mental states and it is vital to how we function within the social world. This research is a pilot study to assess if a ToM eye gaze preference task can be administered within the confides of an MRI scanner with a secondary aim of considering which brain regions could govern our ToM processes. The task was first administered to healthy controls within a pilot study to ensure that the required responses could be produced within certain time constraints. Satisfactory results then meant the task could be implemented in an fMRI study which was designed with the same time restraints as seen in the pilot study. Within this study healthy controls had different BOLD responses when comparing the ToM task against a control task within the Hippocampus, Insula and the Superior Temproal Gyrus. Further variations were found in the Inferior Parietal Cortex, the Amygdala, the Insula and the STG when comparing the neural responses found in the ToM condition to neural responses exhibited in the the favourite condition. In conclusion the main aim of the study was to implement and pilot a ToM eye gaze preference task into a novel imaging environment, this study has successfully completed this and therefore the task can be utilised within future brain imaging studies perhaps considering various clinical populations.