TITLE:  Neurodevelopmental Bases of Theory of Mind in Preschool Children


Date:  October 17, 2008

Location:  Somerville House, Room 3345

Time:   3:00-4:00 p.m.

(Please join us after the talk for light refreshments.)  


Dr. Mark A. Sabbagh

Department of Psychology

Queen's University


Theory of mind is the everyday understanding that people's observable actions are caused by internal mental states such as intentions, desires, emotions, and beliefs.  Over the preschool years, children's theory of mind appears to go through a shift whereby they come to explicitly understand that certain mental states are experience-based, falsifiable representations of the world.  The timetable of this shift is stereotyped and occurs in all cultures that have been examined.  The only ones who do not show such a shift are children which acquired brain damage or specific neurodevelopmental disorders, such as Autism.  These findings all suggest that theory-of-mind development may be paced, at least in part, by neourmaturational factors.  In my talk I will present the findings from studies in which we have tried to characterize those neuromaturational factors, and pin down their functional contribution to theory-of-mind development, using neurophysiological (EEG/ERP), behavioral, and cross-cultural methods.