Functional imaging of 'theory of mind'

Helen L. Gallagher*, Christopher D. Frith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1596 Citations (Scopus)


Our ability to explain and predict other people's behaviour by attributing to them independent mental states, such as beliefs and desires, is known as having a 'theory of mind'. Interest in this very human ability has engendered a growing body of evidence concerning its evolution and development and the biological basis of the mechanisms underpinning it. Functional imaging has played a key role in seeking to isolate brain regions specific to this ability. Three areas are consistently activated in association with theory of mind. These are the anterior paracingulate cortex, the superior temporal sulci and the temporal poles bilaterally. This review discusses the functional significance of each of these areas within a social cognitive network.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-83
Number of pages7
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number2
Early online date7 Jan 2003
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2003


  • anterior paracingulate cortex
  • superior temporal sulci
  • temporal poles bilaterally


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