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Abstract

Narrative comprehension rests on the ability to understand the intentions and perceptions of various agents in a story who interact with respect to some goal or problem. Reasoning about the state of mind of another person, real or fictional, has been referred to as Theory of Mind processing. While Theory of Mind processing was first postulated prior to the existence of neuroimaging research, fMRI studies make it possible to characterize this processing in some detail. We propose that narrative comprehension makes use of some of the neural substrate of Theory of Mind reasoning, evoking what is referred to as a protagonist perspective network. The main cortical components of this protagonist-based network are the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and the right temporo-parietal junction. The article discusses how these two cortical centers interact in narrative comprehension but still play distinguishable roles, and how the interaction between the two centers is disrupted in individuals with autism.