Neurocognitive Bases of Preschoolers’ Theory-of-Mind Development

Mark A. Sabbagh

in The Development of Social Engagement

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195168716
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199847853 | DOI:

Series: Series in Affective Science

Neurocognitive Bases of Preschoolers’ Theory-of-Mind Development

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Findings and methodologies from cognitive development and cognitive neuroscience studies are integrated in this chapter in an attempt to gain a better understanding of the neurocognitive underpinnings and development of theory of mind in preschoolers. Two hypotheses on how the development of theory of mind is paced by that of frontal-lobe functioning are presented. Discussions suggest that neurocognitive mechanisms in the frontal lobes are motivated by theory of mind and that there is a correlation between false hopes (but not false photographs) and the differences in children's performance on certain aspects of inhibitory functioning. The higher inhibitory control demands of beliefs result from children's concept of beliefs. Developments in the preschool years that set the stage for false-belief understanding should not be misunderstood as the start of theory-of-mind reasoning.

Keywords: cognitive development; cognitive neuroscience; neurocognitive mechanism; theory of mind; reasoning; false beliefs; understanding; inhibitory functioning; children

Chapter.  7898 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Neuropsychology

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