Going beyond the information given:
Understanding other minds
Rebecca Saxe
BCS
Going beyond the information given
Do the words
you used
indicate:
- Gender?
QuickTime™ and a
H.263 decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
- Goals or
desires? (e.g.
wants, tries)
- Emotions?
(e.g. happy,
afraid)
What do you see?
Watch and then write.
- Personality
traits? (e.g.
bully)
Going beyond the information given
For understanding other minds:
(a domain of mostly invisible entities!)
What we see:
A “biological” motion
What we
understand:
A hand reaching for a bottle
FICTION
His intention: to drink the liquid
He believes the
liquid is poison
False Beliefs
He wants
to die
He believes Juliet
is dead
Etc.
Going beyond the information given
For understanding other minds:
(a domain of mostly invisible entities!)
Unobservable Beliefs (& False Beliefs):
- Not much it feels like to be “believing”
e.g. that today is Wednesday
that drought destroys crops
that your grandmother is older than me
that I have a liver
Going beyond the information given
For understanding other minds:
(a domain of mostly invisible entities!)
Unobservable Beliefs (& False Beliefs):
- Not much it feels like to be “believing”
- Especially true for false beliefs:
Which of your current beliefs are false?
So where does the concept of “belief” come from?
Going beyond the information given
So where does the concept of “belief” come from?
“Theory of Mind”
--- The World ---
DESIRES
BELIEFS
ACTIONS
What evidence?
- certain kinds of
failed prediction
Going beyond the information given
So where does the concept of “belief” come from?
“Theory of Mind”
Sally
3 years old:
“In the box.”
Where will Sally look for her ball?
Anne
Going beyond the information given
So where does the concept of “belief” come from?
“Theory of Mind”
Sally
5 years old:
“In the basket.”
Where will Sally look for her ball?
Anne
Going beyond the information given
So where does the concept of “belief” come from?
“Theory of Mind”
Three year olds:
--- The World ---
DESIRES
BELIEFS
Perfect copy of
real world
Five year olds:
“Representation”
of real world
ACTIONS
FRAME-WORK Theory
Sally will look for her ball…
Romeo will kill himself…
People vote for Bush…
Going beyond the information given
So where does the concept of “belief” come from?
“Theory of Mind”
--- The World ---
DESIRES
BELIEFS
What evidence?
- certain kinds of
failed prediction
- “self-explanation”
- How people talk
ACTIONS
-Talking about past events
- Gossips about absent people
Going beyond the information given
So where does the concept of “belief” come from?
“Theory of Mind”
Adam Gopnik: Of course Luke didn't have to be told whom they were
looking at down there, and why; we both could see it plain as day. They
were watching the Rookie, pitching his way out of another pinch.
Yet I began to wonder: What picture did he summon up when, night
after night, he heard the words Polo Grounds, full count, all the way to
the backstop? [...]
He had never been to a baseball game, never seen a bat or a glove, never
been inside a ballpark or even watched a ball game on television. [...] No
one Luke knew played baseball, no one talked about it; the words and
situations were pure language, pure abstract lore. [...]
But now I said "Polo Grounds" or "full count" and the words called up in
my son a powerful reaction.
Going beyond the information given
So where does the concept of “belief” come from?
“Theory of Mind”
Deaf children:
- of non-signer vs native-signer parents
Theory of Mind
OR
1. Meta-representation
Camera
2. Inhibit reality,
respond to belief
3. Falseness
Photograph
Going beyond the information given
So where does the concept of “belief” come from?
“Theory of Mind”
Deaf children:
- of non-signer vs native-signer parents
- NOT delayed on false photograph tasks
Going beyond the information given
So where does the concept of “belief” come from?
“Theory of Mind”
--- The World ---
DESIRES
BELIEFS
What evidence?
- certain kinds of
failed prediction
- “self-explanation”
- How people talk
ACTIONS
- A special neural
mechanism just for
understanding minds?
Going beyond the information given
So where does the concept of “belief” come from?
“Theory of Mind”
Healthy brains:
False Belief stories
False Photo stories
Susie parked her sportscar in
the driveway. In the middle of
the night. Nathan moved her
car into the garage to make
room for his minivan. Susie
woke up early in the morning.
A volcano erupted on this
Caribbean island three
months ago. Barren lava rock
is all that remains. Satellite
photographs show the island
as it was before the eruption.
She expects to see in the drive
a sportscar
a minivan
In the photos the island is
covered in
rock
vegetation
Going beyond the information given
So where does the concept of “belief” come from?
“Theory of Mind”
Healthy brains:
False Belief stories
False Photo stories
In 90% of individual subjects:
1.2
Belief
0.8
Photo
0.4
-0.8
28
24
20
16
12
8
4
-0.4
0
-4
0
Right temporo-parietal junction
Going beyond the information given
So where does the concept of “belief” come from?
“Theory of Mind”
Autistic children:
Control
Autistic
-> Suggests that
“Theory of Mind”
is not just about
general
intelligence
-> A disanalogy
from scientific
theories?
Standard
Photograph
Map
Going beyond the information given
So where does the concept of “belief” come from?
“Theory of Mind”
--- The World ---
DESIRES
BELIEFS
ACTIONS
An intuitive Theory?
- control and predict
the world
- generate
explanations, satisfy
need for knowledge
- domain specific?
- special neural
mechanism?
Going beyond the information given
An intuitive Theory?
--- The World ---
Non-Theory alternative?
Is there any alternative
hypothesis?
“Cells that read minds”?
DESIRES
BELIEFS
ACTIONS
"Mirror neurons allow us to
grasp the minds of others
not through conceptual
reasoning but through direct
simulation. By feeling, not by
thinking."
An alternative hypothesis:
A class of cells in monkey MOTOR cortex:
Motor prep.
Grasp
Intensity
Time
Response during OBSERVATION:
… same action specificity!
An alternative hypothesis:
A common code for own and other’s actions...
Muscle Arm
response moving
Arm
muscle
Watching
someone else’s
hand moving
Hand
muscle
An alternative hypothesis:
“Feeling” someone else’s feelings...
1. Being touched:
2. A video of someone
else being touched
Brain response:
An alternative hypothesis:
“Feeling” someone else’s pain...
Own pain:
Significant
other’s pain:
An alternative hypothesis:
Do we use “mirror neurones,” instead of an
intuitive theory, to understand other minds?
Let’s take a break
An alternative hypothesis:
Do we use “mirror neurones,” instead of an
intuitive theory, to understand other minds?
Four arguments against:
- A specific thought experiment
- An argument from neuroscience
- An argument from error
- An argument from success
An alternative hypothesis:
Do we use “mirror neurones,” instead of an
intuitive theory, to understand other minds?
Thought experiment:
THOUGHTS
ACTION
What would
a mirror
neuron do?
An alternative hypothesis:
Do we use “mirror neurones,” instead of an
intuitive theory, to understand other minds?
Four arguments against:
- A specific thought experiment
- An argument from neuroscience
An alternative hypothesis:
Do we use “mirror neurones,” instead of an
intuitive theory, to understand other minds?
An argument from neuroscience:
A group of brain
regions involved
in “Theory of
Mind”
Anatomically and
functionally
distinct from the
“Mirror system”
A recent experiment:
Background
Your friend Louis is getting very
high grades in high school. He is
taking AP Biology, AP Chemistry,
AP Calculus, and AP
Biochemistry.
Mental
State
After he graduates Louis wants to
study medicine and his ambition
is to become a neurosurgeon.
Outcome
While you are having a drink
together, he tells you that he just
received a letter informing him
that he was accepted to a premed
program at a prestigious
university.
Feeling
Question
* Will Louis have positive or
negative feelings with regards to
his acceptance?
positive / negative
(see Terwogt and Rieffe 2003).
A recent experiment:
Scan Details
Your friend Louis is getting very
high grades in high school. He is
taking AP Biology, AP Chemistry,
AP Calculus, and AP
Biochemistry.
6.3 s
N = 12 naïve native
English speaking,
American middle class;
Mental
State
After he graduates Louis wants to
study medicine and his ambition
is to become a neurosurgeon.
6.3 s
3T scanner, whole brain
coverage, slices = 4mm,
TR =2
Outcome
While you are having a drink
together, he tells you that he just
received a letter informing him
that he was accepted to a premed
program at a prestigious
university.
Background
Feeling
Question
* Will Louis have positive or
negative feelings with regards to
his acceptance?
positive / negative
(Saxe & Wexler, 2005).
+ Localiser
7.4 s
Story details
4s
- matched for word length
- counterbalanced both
whether the character feels
positive or negative, and the
side of the correct response.
- counterbalanced versions
of each story
A recent experiment:
Immediate:
Time
Delayed:
In individual
subject RTPJ ROIs
(p<0.05 corrected)
Background:
Mental state info
delayed 6 s
1.6
P < 0.01, pairedsamples t-test
RTPJ response
delayed 6 s?
immediate
delayed
1.2
0.8
0.4
0
-4 -2
-0.4
(Saxe & Wexler, 2005).
0
2
4
6
8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 24 26 28
A recent experiment:
2x2
design:
Validated
by a survey
after the
scan
“Familiar”
Your friend Louis/Jason is getting
very high grades in high school. He is
taking AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP
Calculus, and AP Biochemistry.
“Normal”
After he graduates Louis wants to
study medicine and his ambition
is to become a neurosurgeon.
N = 12 naïve
native
English
speaking,
American
middle class;
3T scanner,
whole brain
coverage,
slices = 4mm,
TR =2
“Foreign”
Your friend Louis/Jason comes from a
very rich family. There is an unbroken
tradition in his family that the sons
don’t work for a living. They live on the
inheritance and do whatever they like.
A recent experiment:
2x2
design:
Validated
by a survey
after the
scan
“Familiar”
Your friend Louis/Jason is getting
very high grades in high school. He is
taking AP Biology, AP Chemistry, AP
Calculus, and AP Biochemistry.
“Normal”
After he graduates Louis wants to
study medicine and his ambition
is to become a neurosurgeon.
“Foreign”
Your friend Louis/Jason comes from a
very rich family. There is an unbroken
tradition in his family that the sons
don’t work for a living. They live on the
inheritance and do whatever they like.
“Unusual”
Jason never wants to work in his life. He’d
much rather live on his parents’ money, and
not bother with college or job.
N = 12 naïve
native
English
speaking,
American
middle class;
Your friend Andrew/Paul, from high
school, lives in Philadelphia. He and his
wife have always had an excellent
relationship. They almost never fight.
Your friend Andrew/Paul, from high
school, and his wife have become
involved with a cult. Within their cult,
extramarital relationships are accepted
and occur often.
3T scanner,
whole brain
coverage,
slices = 4mm,
TR =2
Andrew once confided in you that he
really hates the idea that his wife
might have an affair. Monogamy is
very important to him.
Paul once confided in you that he
would find it fun if his wife, outside of
their marriage, started a relationship
with another man.
A recent experiment:
RTPJ recruitment: predictions during Mental State
1. LIKE ME - NOT LIKE ME
2. TRYING TO MAKE SENSE
Other minds are represented
relative to subject’s own
mind.
Other minds are represented as
internally coherent wholes.
RTPJ response is correlated
with how “like me” the other
mind is.
Familiar - Normal
Familiar - Unusual
Foreign- Normal
Foreign-Unusual
RTPJ response reflects
interaction of background and
mental state
Familiar - Normal
Foreign - Unusual
Familiar - Unusual
Foreign- Normal
A recent experiment:
RTPJ recruitment:
Background (0 - 6 sec):
1.2
1
Familiar
Foreign
Mental States: (6 - 12 sec)
Unusual
1
0.8
0.8
0.6
0.6
0.4
0.4
Normal
1.2
0.2
0.2
0
0
Background
= No sig. effects
Just for Beliefs and
Desires
-0.2
Familiar
Foreign
= TRYING TO MAKE
SENSE
• During MS, interaction of Background and Mental State, p<0.01
An alternative hypothesis:
Do we use “mirror neurones,” instead of an
intuitive theory, to understand other minds?
Four arguments against:
- A specific thought experiment
- An argument from neuroscience
- An argument from error
An alternative hypothesis:
Do we use “mirror neurones,” instead of an
intuitive theory, to understand other minds?
An argument from error:
Adam Gopnik: "Hey, look, that's the Chief" I announced proudly,
opening the old baseball encyclopedia at his bedside. He paused,
looked at the picture, looked back at me - peering in, for a moment and then he got a funny, guilty smile on his face that I had never seen
there before.
"Oh," he said, peering intently at the picture. "I thought it was his
mother."
"What do you mean?" I said, surprised.
"I mean, I knew it was - but I thought it was. I mean I knew it was a
man... but I thought he was the mother," he continued, stumbling a
little. "I thought it was his mother."
An alternative hypothesis:
Do we use “mirror neurones,” instead of an
intuitive theory, to understand other minds?
An argument from error:
--- The World ---
DESIRES
BELIEFS
Three year olds:
Perfect copy of
real world
Five year olds:
“Representation”
of real world
ACTIONS
An alternative hypothesis:
Do we use “mirror neurones,” instead of an
intuitive theory, to understand other minds?
An argument from error:
The “Appearance - Reality”
distinction:
It looks like a rock.
It feels and moves like a
sponge.
What will it look like to the
next child, when he comes in?
Three year olds:
Perfect copy of
real world
An alternative hypothesis:
Do we use “mirror neurones,” instead of an
intuitive theory, to understand other minds?
An argument from error:
The “Appearance - Reality”
distinction
Three year olds:
Perfect copy of
real world
Sources of Knowledge
Which puppet knows whether
It is the red or
green ball?
One touches:
One looks:
It is the hard or
soft cat?
An alternative hypothesis:
Do we use “mirror neurones,” instead of an
intuitive theory, to understand other minds?
An argument from error:
The “Appearance - Reality”
distinction
Sources of Knowledge
Three year olds
just bad at
mirroring?
Theory-based errors in adults?
An alternative hypothesis:
Theory-based errors in adults?
Milgram: The “teacher” was led into an adjoining room in which an
elaborate electrical control panel was placed. Switches on the control
panel were labeled with voltage indicators in increasing order from 15450 volts. Several switches were also labeled as "Extreme-Intensity
Shock," "Danger - severe shock," and the highest voltage switch was
labeled "XXX."
The “teacher” was instructed to read a pre-selected, randomly ordered
list of word pairs to test the pupil's ability to correctly match words.
Whenever the pupil answered incorrectly, the teacher was instructed
to throw one of the switches, starting at the lowest voltage and
progressing to the higher voltages. About midway through the series of
switches, the "pupil" would complain loudly that he wanted to stop,
kick the wall, and scream. At the highest levels of shock the pupil
would remain silent.
An alternative hypothesis:
Theory-based errors in adults?
Milgram: 15-450 volts.
How high would you go?
How many people would go to the highest level?
Predictions: only criminals and psychopaths go over 115 volts
Reality: 65% of subjects go to 450 volts
An alternative hypothesis:
Theory-based errors in adults?
What proportion of the household errands do you do?
What proportion will your partner or roommate claim
that he/she does?
100
What people think
What their partners
expect them to think
50
Real minds: Salience
Theory of Mind:
Self-serving bias
0
% Positive
% Negative
An alternative hypothesis:
Theory-based errors in adults
Are we all just “bad” mirrors?
Inaccuracy
vs
Bias
Example from intuitive physics:
Impetus
Theory of
Motion
An alternative hypothesis:
Do we use “mirror neurones,” instead of an
intuitive theory, to understand other minds?
Four arguments against:
- A specific thought experiment
- An argument from neuroscience
- An argument from error
- An argument from success
An alternative hypothesis:
Do we use “mirror neurones,” instead of an
intuitive theory, to understand other minds?
Argument from success:
Understanding states that one has
never experienced: Kelli
When Kelli was
3.5 years old:
Show me the back
of your pants.
An alternative hypothesis:
Do we use “mirror neurones,” instead of an
intuitive theory, to understand other minds?
Argument from success:
Understanding states that one has
never experienced: Kelli
When Kelli was
4.5 years old:
A congenitally blind adult
defines “to notice”:
Can you hide the
car, so Mommy
won’t see it?
To see something that comes
into your view. But not only to
see it, but to perceive it and
understand it. You could sit
on this rocking chair and not
notice the colour of it at all
Going beyond the information given
An intuitive Theory?
--- The World ---
DESIRES
BELIEFS
Non-Theory alternative?
Arguments against
feeling instead of
thinking:
• Specific
counterexample
• Neuroscience
ACTIONS
• Error
• Success
Going beyond the information given
Topics to think about:
- Can neuroscientific evidence help us evaluate
cognitive theories?
- Will the “Theory of Mind” brain regions be
recruited when blind people reason about other
people’s visual perception?
-What is the mechanism of Theory change?
- Is there a real change of Theory around 4
years? Note: Adults have similar problems in
more complex situations - “the curse of
knowledge”.
- Do pre-verbal infants have theories?
Going beyond the information given
One final thought:
“I know you think you understand what you thought
I said, but I don’t think you realise that what you
heard was not what I meant.”
~ Daniel Greenspan
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