Resting state morphology predicts the effect of theta burst stimulation in false belief reasoning

Charlotte E Hartwright, Robert M Hardwick, Ian A Apperly, Peter C Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
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When required to represent a perspective that conflicts with one's own, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) suggests that the right ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (rvlPFC) supports the inhibition of that conflicting self-perspective. The present task dissociated inhibition of self-perspective from other executive control processes by contrasting belief reasoning-a cognitive state where the presence of conflicting perspectives was manipulated-with a conative desire state wherein no systematic conflict existed. Linear modeling was used to examine the effect of continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) to rvlPFC on participants' reaction times in belief and desire reasoning. It was anticipated that cTBS applied to rvlPFC would affect belief but not desire reasoning, by modulating activity in the Ventral Attention System (VAS). We further anticipated that this effect would be mediated by functional connectivity within this network, which was identified using resting state fMRI and an unbiased model-free approach. Simple reaction-time analysis failed to detect an effect of cTBS. However, by additionally modeling individual measures from within the stimulated network, the hypothesized effect of cTBS to belief (but, importantly, not desire) reasoning was demonstrated. Structural morphology within the stimulated region, rvlPFC, and right temporoparietal junction were demonstrated to underlie this effect. These data provide evidence that inconsistencies found with cTBS can be mediated by the composition of the functional network that is being stimulated. We suggest that the common claim that this network constitutes the VAS explains the effect of cTBS to this network on false belief reasoning. Hum Brain Mapp, 2016. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Brain Mapping
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2016


  • attention
  • theory of mind
  • resting state networks
  • ventrolateral prefrontal cortex
  • temporoparietal junction
  • false belief
  • theta burst
  • brain stimulation
  • fMRI
  • TMS


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