Functional lateralization of temporoparietal junction - imitation inhibition, visual perspective-taking and theory of mind

Idalmis Santiesteban*, Michael J. Banissy, Caroline Catmur, Geoffrey Bird

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


Although neuroimaging studies have consistently identified the temporoparietal junction (TPJ) as a key brain region involved in social cognition, the literature is far from consistent with respect to lateralization of function. For example, during theory-of-mind tasks bilateral TPJ activation is found in some studies but only right hemisphere activation in others. Visual perspective-taking and imitation inhibition, which have been argued to recruit the same socio-cognitive processes as theory of mind, are associated with unilateral activation of either left TPJ (perspective taking) or right TPJ (imitation inhibition). The present study investigated the functional lateralization of TPJ involvement in the above three socio-cognitive abilities using transcranial direct current stimulation. Three groups of healthy adults received anodal stimulation over right TPJ, left TPJ or the occipital cortex prior to performing three tasks (imitation inhibition, visual perspective-taking and theory of mind). In contrast to the extant neuroimaging literature, our results suggest bilateral TPJ involvement in imitation inhibition and visual perspective-taking, while no effect of anodal stimulation was observed on theory of mind. The discrepancy between these findings and those obtained using neuroimaging highlight the efficacy of neurostimulation as a complementary methodological tool in cognitive neuroscience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2527-2533
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Bilateral temporoparietal junction
  • Self-other representations
  • Social cognition
  • Transcranial direct current stimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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