Researchers at Caltech have come up with a new way of testing one’s theory of mind which is defined as the ability to understand other people’s beliefs, preferences, and intentions as distinct from one’s own. Theory of mind is complex and involves multiple neural processes. The team, which just published their work in Current Biology, found that people with autism—a group known to have trouble understanding the thoughts, plans, and point of view of others—have disproportionate difficulties in one particular process.
The work was conducted in the laboratory of Ralph Adolphs, Bren Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, and Biology; and director and Allen V. C. Davis and Lenabelle Davis Leadership Chair of the Caltech Brain Imaging Center, a center of the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience at Caltech. Graduate student Isabelle Rosenthal is the paper’s first author and Cendri Hutcherson, a faculty member at the University of Toronto at Scarborough, is a co-author.