The right temporoparietal junction is causally associated with embodied perspective taking

A. K. Martin, K. Kessler, S. Cooke, J. Huang, M. Meinzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A prominent theory claims that the right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ) is especially associated with embodied processes relevant to perspective-taking. In the present study, we use high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation to provide evidence that the rTPJ is causally associated with the embodied processes underpinning perspective-taking. Eighty-eight young human adults were stratified to receive either rTPJ or dorsomedial PFC anodal high-definition transcranial direct current stimulation in a sham-controlled, double-blind, repeated-measures design. Perspective-tracking (line-of-sight) and perspective-taking (embodied rotation) were assessed using a visuo-spatial perspective-taking task that required understanding what another person could see or how they see it, respectively. Embodied processing was manipulated by positioning the participant in a manner congruent or incongruent with the orientation of an avatar on the screen. As perspective-taking, but not perspective-tracking, is influenced by bodily position, this allows the investigation of the specific causal role for the rTPJ in embodied processing. Crucially, anodal stimulation to the rTPJ increased the effect of bodily position during perspective-taking, whereas no such effects were identified during perspective-tracking, thereby providing evidence for a causal role for the rTPJ in the embodied component of perspective-taking. Stimulation to the dorsomedial PFC had no effect on perspective-tracking or taking. Therefore, the present study provides support for theories postulating that the rTPJ is causally involved in embodied cognitive processing relevant to social functioning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2637-19
Pages (from-to)3089-3095
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number15
Early online date4 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2020 the authors. Articles are released under a Creative Commons Attribution License after a 6 months embargo


  • Dorsomedial PFC
  • Embodiment
  • High-definition transcranial direct current stimulation
  • Perspective-taking
  • Right temporoparietal junction
  • Social cognition


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