The special case of self-perspective inhibition in mental, but not non-mental, representation

Charlotte E. Hartwright, Ian A. Apperly, Peter C. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (vlPFC) has been implicated in studies of both executive and social functions. Recent meta-analyses suggest that vlPFC plays an important but little understood role in Theory of Mind (ToM). Converging neuropsychological and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) evidence suggests that this may reflect inhibition of self-perspective. The present study adapted an extensively published ToM localizer to evaluate the role of vlPFC in inhibition of self-perspective. The classic false belief, false photograph vignettes that comprise the localizer were modified to generate high and low salience of self-perspective. Using a factorial design, the present study identified a behavioural and neural cost associated with having a highly salient self-perspective that was incongruent with the representational content. Importantly, vlPFC only differentiated between high versus low salience of self-perspective when representing mental state content. No difference was identified for non-mental representation. This result suggests that different control processes are required to represent competing mental and non-mental content.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-192
Number of pages10
Early online date16 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2015

Bibliographical note

© 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (


  • inhibition
  • brain mapping
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • prefrontal cortex
  • self concept
  • theory of mind


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