The right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ) is frequently associated with different capacities that to shift attention to unexpected stimuli (reorienting of attention) and to understand others’ (false) mental state [theory of mind (ToM), typically represented by false belief tasks]. Competing hypotheses either suggest the rTPJ representing a unitary region involved in separate cognitive functions or consisting of subregions subserving distinct processes. We conducted activation likelihood estimation (ALE) meta-analyses to test these hypotheses. A conjunction analysis across ALE meta-analyses delineating regions consistently recruited by reorienting of attention and false belief studies revealed the anterior rTPJ, suggesting an overarching role of this specific region. Moreover, the anatomical difference analysis unravelled the posterior rTPJ as higher converging in false belief compared with reorienting of attention tasks. This supports the concept of an exclusive role of the posterior rTPJ in the social domain. These results were complemented by meta-analytic connectivity mapping (MACM) and resting-state functional connectivity (RSFC) analysis to investigate whole-brain connectivity patterns in task-constrained and task-free brain states. This allowed for detailing the functional separation of the anterior and posterior rTPJ. The combination of MACM and RSFC mapping showed that the posterior rTPJ has connectivity patterns with typical ToM regions, whereas the anterior part of rTPJ co-activates with the attentional network. Taken together, our data suggest that rTPJ contains two functionally fractionated subregions: while posterior rTPJ seems exclusively involved in the social domain, anterior rTPJ is involved in both, attention and ToM, conceivably indicating an attentional shifting role of this region.
- Theory of mind
ASJC Scopus subject areas