Mind Reading: Human Origins and Theory of Mind

Event Dates: 
Oct 18, 2013 -
1:00pm to 5:30pm

The phrase "Theory of Mind" (ToM) has historically referred to the ability to impute mental states to oneself and others, but has been used in a variety of ways during the 35 years since the original Premack and Woodruff paper (1978). [PDF file available below for download.] The analysis of ToM has been the subject of many papers in developmental psychology and in anthropogeny, the latter focusing on differences in mental performance between humans versus other mammals and birds. Because precise definition is necessary for rigorous scientific analysis, the first talk will focus on what ToM is. The rest of the talks will cover the Ontogeny of Human ToM, relevant information on other mammals and birds, and the neuronal correlates and mechanisms of human ToM performance.

Event Sessions

Media for each talk can be played by clicking on icons in the "Media" column, or by clicking on the individual talk titles below and then the attachment file at the bottom of the page.

Date Media Session Title Speakers Abstract Location
Fri 10/18 File Welcome Ajit Varki Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/18 File What is Theory of Mind? Ralph Adolphs

The term “Theory of Mind” has been used interchangeably with a number of related concepts (mentalizing, mirroring, mindreading, to name a few), operationalized in a variety of ways (such as the... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/18 File "Mind Reading" in Chimpanzees Tetsuro Matsuzawa

For many years, I have studied chimpanzees both in the laboratory and in the wild. The “Ai project” is a long-running laboratory study at the Primate Research Institute of Kyoto University, Japan... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/18 File Comparing Apes and Dogs Juliane Kaminski

Humans are social creatures maintaining shared complex systems of communication, skills and knowledge. Human sociality appears to be unique throughout the animal kingdom in its complexity as well... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/18 File The Social Brain in Adolescence Sarah-Jayne Blakemore

 The brain has evolved to understand and interact with other people. This talk focuses on how the social brain, that is the network of brain regions involved in understanding others, develops... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/18 File Reflections of Dolphin and Elephant Minds Diana Reiss

The ability to recognize oneself in a mirror, once considered a uniquely human attribute, is shared by great apes, dolphins, elephants and magpies. In our comparative studies of mirror self-... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/18 File Mirror Neurons and More Michael Arbib

Mirror neurons were first discovered in the brain of macaque monkeys -- neurons active both when the monkey executed certain actions and when he observed others performing similar actions. Perhaps... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/18 File Brain Imaging Studies Jason Mitchell

Although we never directly perceive the mental states of others, humans are nevertheless proficient mind readers⎯we are rarely stumped by what other people are thinking or feeling. How, then, do... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/18 File Emergence of Theory of Mind in Human Babies Jessica Sommerville

Theory of mind, the ability to predict, describe and explain one’s own and others’ behavior with reference to mental states, plays a central role in human social cognition and behavior. Classic... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/18 File What Makes Humans Different? Elizabeth Spelke

Mature human cognition is complex and variable, both across contemporary cultures and over human history, but human cognitive development proceeds in a predictable and regular pattern in infants... more

Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium
Fri 10/18 File Wrap-up Terry Sejnowski Salk Institute - Conrad T. Prebys Auditorium