J Korean Neuropsychiatr Assoc.  2010 May;49(3):312-323.

An fMRI Study Regarding the 'Theory of Mind' in Korean Schizophrenic Patients Using a First Order False Belief Task

  • 1Department of Neuropsychiatry, College of Medicine, Chungbuk National University, Cheongju, Korea. jwsonn@chungbuk.ac.kr
  • 2Department of Psychology, Chungbuk National University, Cheongju, Korea.
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, Eulji University, Daejeon, Korea.
  • 4Department of Psychiatry, Cheongju Medical Center, Cheongju, Korea.
  • 5Neuroscience Research Institute, Gachon University of Medicine and Science, Incheon, Korea.


The aim of this study was to investigate brain activation during a Korean language-based 'theory of mind (TOM)' task and fMRI in Korean schizophrenic patients.
Fourteen Korean schizophrenic patients and 15 normal controls participated in this study. For all participants, several clinical states and psychosocial functions were evaluated. The subjects were then scanned while performing Korean language-based fMRI tasks. The tasks were comprised of conditions-first order false belief (TOM task), physical causality, and unrelated situations. Imaging data were analyzed using SPM2 software (uncorrected p<0.005, extent threshold kappa=10).
1) Compared with the control group, the patient group showed significantly poorer performance on the TOM task, and no significant correlation between TOM and empathic abilitiesy. 2) In the patient group, there were no significantly activated brain regions associated with the TOM task as compared to the physical causality task. With respect to between-group differences, the patient group showed significantly less activation of the left medial frontal region (primarily BA 8) and signifcantly different activation of the left precuneus (BA 7) associated with the TOM task.
These results suggest that Korean schizophreniac patients show different brain activity associated with TOM functions, especially with respect to the Korean language-based first order false belief tasks.


Schizophrenia; Theory of mind; First order false belief task; fMRI
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