Interfering with the neural activity of mirror-related frontal areas impairs mentalistic inferences

Abstract : According to recently proposed interactive dual-process theories, mentalizing abilities emerge from the coherent interaction between two physically distinct neural systems: (1) the mirror network, coding for the low-level embodied representations involved in pre-reflective sociocognitive processes and (2) the mentalizing network per se, which codes for higher level representations subtending the reflective attribution of psychological states. However, although the latest studies have shown that the core areas forming these two neurocognitive systems do indeed maintain effective connectivity during mentalizing, it is unclear whether an intact mirror system (and, more specifically, its anterior node, namely the posterior inferior frontal cortex) is a prerequisite for accurate mentalistic inferences. Intraoperative brain mapping via direct electrical stimulation offers a unique opportunity to address this issue. Electrical stimulation of the brain creates a "virtual" lesion, which provides functional information on well-defined parts of the cerebral cortex. In the present study, five patients were mapped in real time while they performed a mentalizing task. We found six responsive sites: four in the lateral part of the right pars opercularis and two in the dorsal part of the right pars triangularis. On the subcortical level, two additional sites were located within the white matter connectivity of the pars opercularis. Taken as a whole, our results suggest that the right inferior frontal cortex and its underlying axonal connectivity have a key role in mentalizing. Specifically, our findings support the hypothesis whereby transient, functional disruption of the mirror network influences higher order mentalistic inferences.
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Contributeur : Caps - Université de Bourgogne <>
Soumis le : mercredi 13 avril 2016 - 14:18:16
Dernière modification le : mardi 28 mai 2019 - 17:00:03



Guillaume Herbet, Gilles Lafargue, Sylvie Moritz-Gasser, François Bonnetblanc, Hugues Duffau. Interfering with the neural activity of mirror-related frontal areas impairs mentalistic inferences. Brain Structure and Function, Springer Verlag, 2015, 220 (4), pp.2159-2169. ⟨10.1007/s00429-014-0777-x⟩. ⟨hal-01301992⟩



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