The Neural Basis of False-Belief Processing Across the Lifespan: An ERP Study

Bradford, Elisabeth E.F., Brunsdon, Victoria E.A., Ferguson, Heather J. (2018) The Neural Basis of False-Belief Processing Across the Lifespan: An ERP Study. In: Society for Psychophysiological Research (SPR) Conference, 3-7 October 2018, Quebec City, Canada. (Unpublished) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository.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)

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Abstract

Theory of Mind, or social cognition, refers to the ability to understand, compute, and attribute mental states to oneself and other people. Prior research has shown that even in healthy ageing, declines in social cognitive abilities are often seen. In this study, typically developed participants aged 10-80 years completed an event related potential (ERP) study examining changes in the neural basis of social-cognition across the lifespan. Participants listened to a series of short stories in which a character was described as being in possession of a true- or false- belief about an object’s location, before acting in a manner consistent or inconsistent with this belief-state. Results revealed that consistency influenced processing differently for true and false-belief states. Specifically, when the character held a true belief, the N400 waveform was more negative going for belief-inconsistent actions, compared to belief-consistent actions, from 250ms after critical word onset. However, this pattern was reversed when the character held a false belief, as consistent actions led to a more negative-going N400 component than consistent actions. Age did not modulate these effects. These results indicate that listeners initially interpret narratives from an egocentric perspective, and that this bias is present across the lifespan. Behavioural measures confirmed that this egocentrism is later overcome, with participants ultimately able to accurately rate how appropriately a character acted based on their belief-state.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Poster)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology > Cognitive Psychology
Depositing User: Lizzie Bradford
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2018 12:05 UTC
Last Modified: 30 May 2019 08:23 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/70346 (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
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