Shared and non-shared neural networks of cognitive and affective theory-of-mind: a neuroimaging study using cartoon picture stories

Lara Schlaffke, Silke Lissek, Melanie Lenz, Georg Juckel, Thomas Schultz, Martin Tegenthoff, Tobias Schmidt-Wilcke, and Martin Brüne
In: Human Brain Mapping (2014)
 

Abstract

Theory of mind (ToM) refers to the ability to represent one’s own and others’ cognitive and affective mental states. Recent imaging studies have aimed to disentangle the neural networks involved in cognitive as opposed to affective ToM, based on clinical observations that the two can functionally dissociate. Due to large differences in stimulus material and task complexity findings are, however, inconclusive. Here, we investigated the neural correlates of cognitive and affective ToM in psychologically healthy male participants (n = 39) using functional brain imaging (fMRI), whereby the same set of stimuli was presented for all conditions (affective, cognitive and control), but associated with different questions prompting either a cognitive or affective ToM inference. Direct contrasts of cognitive versus affective ToM showed that cognitive ToM recruited the precuneus and cuneus, as well as regions in the temporal lobes bilaterally, which are known to contribute to self-other distinction. Affective ToM, in contrast, involved a neural network comprising prefrontal cortical structures, as well as smaller regions in the posterior cingulate cortex and the basal ganglia. Notably, these results were complemented by a multivariate pattern analysis (leave one study subject out), yielding a classifier with an accuracy rate of more than 85% in distinguishing between the two ToM-conditions. The regions contributing most to successful classification corresponded to those found in the univariate analyses. The study contributes to the differentiation of neural patterns involved in the representation of cognitive and affective mental states of others.

Images

Bibtex

@ARTICLE{Schlaffke:HBM14,
    author = {Schlaffke, Lara and Lissek, Silke and Lenz, Melanie and Juckel, Georg and Schultz, Thomas and
              Tegenthoff, Martin and Schmidt-Wilcke, Tobias and Br{\"u}ne, Martin},
     title = {Shared and non-shared neural networks of cognitive and affective theory-of-mind: a neuroimaging
              study using cartoon picture stories},
   journal = {Human Brain Mapping},
      year = {2014},
  abstract = {Theory of mind (ToM) refers to the ability to represent one’s own and others’ cognitive and
              affective mental states. Recent imaging studies have aimed to disentangle the neural networks
              involved in cognitive as opposed to affective ToM, based on clinical observations that the two can
              functionally dissociate. Due to large differences in stimulus material and task complexity findings
              are, however, inconclusive.
              Here, we investigated the neural correlates of cognitive and affective ToM in psychologically
              healthy male participants (n = 39) using functional brain imaging (fMRI), whereby the same set of
              stimuli was presented for all conditions (affective, cognitive and control), but associated with
              different questions prompting either a cognitive or affective ToM inference. Direct contrasts of
              cognitive versus affective ToM showed that cognitive ToM recruited the precuneus and cuneus, as well
              as regions in the temporal lobes bilaterally, which are known to contribute to self-other
              distinction. Affective ToM, in contrast, involved a neural network comprising prefrontal cortical
              structures, as well as smaller regions in the posterior cingulate cortex and the basal ganglia.
              Notably, these results were complemented by a multivariate pattern analysis (leave one study subject
              out), yielding a classifier with an accuracy rate of more than 85% in distinguishing between the two
              ToM-conditions. The regions contributing most to successful classification corresponded to those
              found in the univariate analyses.
              The study contributes to the differentiation of neural patterns involved in the representation of
              cognitive and affective mental states of others.}
}