Taking perspective into account in a communicative task

I Dumontheil, O Kuester, Ian Apperly, SJ Blakemore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

62 Citations (Scopus)


Previous neuroimaging studies of spatial perspective taking have tended not to activate the brain's mentalising network. We predicted that a task that requires the use of perspective taking in a communicative context would lead to the activation of mentalising regions. In the current task, participants followed auditory instructions to move objects in a set of shelves. A 2 x 2 factorial design was employed. In the Director factor, two directors (one female and one male) either stood behind or next to the shelves, or were replaced by symbolic cues. In the Object factor, participants needed to use the cues (position of the directors or symbolic cues) to select one of three possible objects, or only one object could be selected. Mere presence of the Directors was associated with activity in the superior dorsal medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) and the superior/middle temporal sulci, extending into the extrastriate body area and the posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS), regions previously found to be responsive to human bodies and faces respectively. The interaction between the Director and Object factors, which requires participants to take into account the perspective of the director, led to additional recruitment of the superior dorsal MPFC, a region activated when thinking about dissimilar others' mental states, and the middle temporal gyri, extending into the left temporal pole. Our results show that using perspective taking in a communicative context, which requires participants to think not only about what the other person sees but also about his/her intentions, leads to the recruitment of superior dorsal MPFC and parts of the social brain network. (c) 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1574-1583
Number of pages10
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2010


  • Theory of mind
  • Decision making
  • Social brain
  • Perspective taking
  • Inhibition
  • Social cognition


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