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Studies of Adults Can Inform Accounts of Theory of Mind Development Ian A. Apperly

Summary: Studies of Adults Can Inform Accounts of Theory of Mind Development
Ian A. Apperly
University of Birmingham
Dana Samson
University of Nottingham
Glyn W. Humphreys
University of Birmingham
There is strong evidence that developments in children's theory of mind (ToM) at 34 years are related
to developments in language and executive function. However, these relationships might exist for 2
reasons. First, language and executive function might be necessary for the mature ToM abilities that
children are in the process of developing. Second, language and executive function may be necessary for
developing ToM but have no necessary role in mature ToM. It is difficult to distinguish between these
possibilities if researchers only study young children. Studies of adults can provide direct evidence about
the role of language and executive function in mature ToM. Recent work suggests that impaired
executive function has multiple roles in adult ToM but that severely impaired grammar can leave ToM
structurally intact. While studies of children report that ToM correlates with both language and executive
function, findings from adults suggest that these relationships should be interpreted in importantly
different ways.
Keywords: theory of mind, executive function, adults, false belief, language
To understand development it is useful to know what develops.


Source: Apperly, Ian - School of Psychology, University of Birmingham


Collections: Biology and Medicine