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The involvement of emotion recognition in affective theory of mind

Authors

  • Daniela Mier,

    1. Division for Imaging in Psychiatry, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany
    2. Centre for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany
    3. Department of Clinical Psychology, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany
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  • Stefanie Lis,

    1. Centre for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany
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  • Kerstin Neuthe,

    1. Centre for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany
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  • Carina Sauer,

    1. Centre for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany
    2. Department of Clinical Psychology, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany
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  • Christine Esslinger,

    1. Division for Imaging in Psychiatry, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany
    2. Centre for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany
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  • Bernd Gallhofer,

    1. Centre for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany
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  • Peter Kirsch

    1. Division for Imaging in Psychiatry, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany
    2. Centre for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Giessen, Giessen, Germany
    3. Department of Clinical Psychology, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany
    4. Mannheim School of Medicine, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany
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  • Daniela Mier was supported by a fellowship for doctoral students from the University of Giessen.

Address correspondence to: Daniela Mier, Division for Imaging in Psychiatry, Central Institute of Mental Health, J 5, D- 68159 Mannheim, Germany. E-mail: Daniela.Mier@zi-mannheim.de or Peter.Kirsch@zi-mannheim.de

Abstract

This study was conducted to explore the relationship between emotion recognition and affective Theory of Mind (ToM). Forty subjects performed a facial emotion recognition and an emotional intention recognition task (affective ToM) in an event-related fMRI study. Conjunction analysis revealed overlapping activation during both tasks. Activation in some of these conjunctly activated regions was even stronger during affective ToM than during emotion recognition, namely in the inferior frontal gyrus, the superior temporal sulcus, the temporal pole, and the amygdala. In contrast to previous studies investigating ToM, we found no activation in the anterior cingulate, commonly assumed as the key region for ToM. The results point to a close relationship of emotion recognition and affective ToM and can be interpreted as evidence for the assumption that at least basal forms of ToM occur by an embodied, non-cognitive process.

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