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The Relationship between Theory of Mind and Executive Functioning Across the Lifespan.

Bradford, Elisabeth E.F., Brunsdon, Victoria E.A., Ferguson, Heather J. (2017) The Relationship between Theory of Mind and Executive Functioning Across the Lifespan. In: Social and Affective Neuroscience Society (SANS) Conference, 16-18th March, 2017, Los Angeles, California, USA. (Unpublished) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided. (Contact us about this Publication)

Abstract

To successfully interact with other people, it is important to be able to infer information about their mental states – what they may know, believe, or think at any given time. This ability is often referred to as possession of a ‘Theory of Mind’ (ToM). Prior research has demonstrated a strong relationship between ToM abilities and Executive Functioning (EF), particularly in young children. However, less is known about the relationship between ToM and EF in adulthood, although it has been shown that during healthy ageing, a decline in both social cognition and EF abilities is often reported. The research presented here sought to explore how the relationship between ToM and EF may change across the lifespan, and how different EF components may be particularly important for successful engagement of ToM at different ages. Participants aged 18-80 years-old completed a battery of ToM tasks assessing different aspects of ToM (such as perspective-taking and emotion recognition) and EF abilities (including inhibition, cognitive flexibility, working memory, and planning). Results revealed differences in how younger and older participants utilize their ToM abilities; older adults were significantly slower in their response times in ToM tasks compared to younger adults. Additionally, older adults made significantly more errors in their responses than younger adults, suggesting difficulty in spontaneously and efficiently computing the mental states of other people. Results highlighted a key role of inhibition and working memory in predicting successful engagement in higher-level ToM, suggesting a critical relationship between ToM and EF continues across the lifespan.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Poster)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: L. Bradford
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2017 15:28 UTC
Last Modified: 23 Jan 2020 04:13 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/62420 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Bradford, Elisabeth E.F.: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7647-0891
Brunsdon, Victoria E.A.: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6590-6880
Ferguson, Heather J.: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1575-4820
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