Reading the mind from eye gaze.
Number of pages
Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
S. Baron-Cohen (1997) has suggested that the interpretation of gaze plays an important role in a normal functioning theory
of mind (ToM) system. Consistent with this suggestion, functional imaging research has shown that both ToM tasks and eye gaze
processing engage a similar region of the posterior superior temporal sulcus. However, a second brain region associated with
ToM, the medial prefrontal (MPF) cortex, has not been identified by previous eye gaze studies. We discuss the methodological
issues that may account for the absence of MPF activation in these experiments and present a PET study that controls for these
factors. Our experiment included 3 conditions in which the proportions of faces gazing at, and away from, the participant,
were as follows: 100% direct, 50% direct-50% averted, and 100% horizontally averted. Two control conditions were also included.
Contrasts comparing the gaze conditions with each of the control conditions reveal medial frontal involvement. Parametric
analyses show a significant linear relationship between increasing proportions of horizontally averted gaze and increased
rCBF in the MPF cortex. The opposite parametric analysis was associated with increased rCBF in a number of areas including
the superior and medial temporal gyri. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2002 APA, all rights reserved)
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