Damage to the left ventromedial prefrontal cortex impacts affective theory of mind

Anne Leopold, Frank Krueger, Olga Dal monte, Matteo Pardini, Sarah J. Pulaski, Jeffrey Solomon, Jordan Grafman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Studies investigating theory of mind (ToM) abilities (i.e. ability to understand and predict others' mental states) have revealed that affective and cognitive functions play a significant role and that each of those functions are associated with distinct neural networks. Cognitive facets of ToM have implicated the medial prefrontal cortex, temporo-parietal junction and the anterior paracingulate cortex, whereas affective facets have implicated the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). Although the vmPFC has repeatedly shown to be critical for affective functions, knowledge regarding the exact role of the left and right vmPFC in affective ToM is still obscure. Here, we compared performances of 30 patients with left, right and bilateral vmPFC lesions to two comparison groups (one without and one with brain injuries) on the Faux Pas Recognition task measuring the facets of ToM. We also investigated whether any deficits may be associated with other emotional measures, namely emotional empathy and emotional intelligence. Our results extend earlier findings by showing that the vmPFC is associated with abilities in affective ToM. More importantly, our results revealed that the left, and not the right vmPFC as indicated previously, is involved in affective ToM and that this deficit is associated with emotional intelligence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbernsr071
Pages (from-to)871-880
Number of pages10
JournalSocial cognitive and affective neuroscience
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 2012


  • Affective theory of mind
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Empathy
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Ventromedial prefrontal cortex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Damage to the left ventromedial prefrontal cortex impacts affective theory of mind'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this