Poster titled "Sex Difference in Neural Correlates of Theory of Mind" presented at the 20th European Congress of Psychiatry (a Division of European Psychiatric Association [EPA]) in Pargue, Czech Republic on 3-6 March, 2012. This poster was also orally presented at the ePoster session.
Theory of mind (ToM) is the ability to predict behaviors of others in terms of their underlying mental states. Impairments in ToM have been found in many psychiatric/neurological disorders including schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders. Previous research has indicated that females score higher on standard tests of ToM, social sensitivity, and empathy than males do. To examine possible sex differences in the neural mechanisms associated with ToM, 16 female and 16 male adults were examined with fMRI while performing a story-based false-belief task. During the ToM condition, female participants showed significantly greater activity in the left superior frontal gyrus/medial prefrontal cortex. In contrast, males showed greater activation in the right posterior cingulate cortex and the ventral anterior cingulate cortex during the ToM relative to the non-ToM condition. These results suggest that males and females employ different brain regions for ToM. They also suggest that there are some gender-related differences in HOW ToM is understood.