Differential role of temporoparietal junction and medial prefrontal cortex in causal inference in autism: An independent component analysis

Academic Article


  • Neuroimaging studies have consistently identified a network of brain regions responsible for making inferences of others' mental states. This network includes the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), posterior superior temporal sulcus (pSTS) at the temporoparietal junction (TPJ), and temporal poles. Although TPJ and MPFC are key nodes of the Theory of Mind (ToM) network, their relative functional roles are still debated. This study sought to examine the contribution of these regions in causal attribution and to explore the nature of the ToM network in people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Participants watched a series of comic strip vignettes in the MRI scanner, and identified the most logical ending to each vignette, which sometimes required intentional causal attribution. Independent component analysis was done to isolate temporally correlated brain networks. The functional networks for intentional causality included the TPJ and MPFC, with an increased contribution of TPJ. There was also a significant group difference in the TPJ, with reduced response in participants with ASD. These results suggest an increased role of TPJ in intentional causality. In addition, the reduced response in ASD in TPJ may reflect their difficulties in social cognition. © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Murdaugh DL; Nadendla KD; Kana RK
  • Start Page

  • 50
  • End Page

  • 55
  • Volume

  • 568