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Neurofunctional Correlates of Theory of Mind Deficits in Schizophrenia

[ Vol. 12 , Issue. 21 ]

Author(s):

M. Bosia, R. Riccaboni and S. Poletti   Pages 2284 - 2302 ( 19 )

Abstract:


Theory of Mind, the ability to understand the potential mental states and intentions of others, represents a relevant aspect of social cognition, with high impact on the capacity to interact within the social world. This very human ability has been one of the focuses of neuroscience research in the past decades and data from neuroimaging studies allowed to identify a Theory of Mind network and to formulate a neurobiological model. Concurrent neuropsychiatric studies showed that Theory of Mind is differently impaired in several conditions, among these, in schizophrenia, a disease characterized by functional and social disability. This paper addresses the issue of neurofunctional correlates of Theory of Mind deficits in schizophrenia, reviewing functional imaging studies of the past ten years comparing schizophrenia patients to healthy controls. Several differences in hemodynamic response between patients and controls were observed in the areas known to be critically involved in social cognition, such as the medial prefrontal cortex, temporal cortex surrounding superior temporal sulcus and temporo-parietal junction and cingulate cortex. Results are promising, however they are still heterogeneous. The reported variability could depend on factors related to the construct of Theory of Mind itself, technical aspects and psychopathological/physiopathological mechanisms and needs to be further addressed by future studies.

Keywords:

Schizophrenia, Psychosis proneness, Theory of Mind, functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, temporo-parietal junction, medial prefrontal cortex.

Affiliation:

Department of Clinical Neurosciences San Raffaele University Scientific Institute Hospital, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Via Stamira d’Ancona 20, 20127 Milano, Italy



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