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Social brain dysfunctions in patients with Parkinson’s disease: a review of theory of mind studies

Rwei-Ling Yu1 and Ruey-Meei Wu12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Psychology, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan

2 Department of Neurology, National Taiwan University Hospital, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, 10002, Taipei, Taiwan

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Translational Neurodegeneration 2013, 2:7  doi:10.1186/2047-9158-2-7

Published: 28 March 2013


Human social interaction is essential in daily life and crucial for a promising life, especially in people who suffer from disease. Theory of Mind (ToM) is fundamental in social interaction and is described as the ability to impute the mental states of others in social situations. Studies have proposed that a complex neuroanatomical network that includes the frontal cortex mediates ToM. The primary neuropathology of Parkinson’s disease (PD) involves the frontal-striatal system; therefore, patients with PD are expected to exhibit deficits in ToM. In this review, we summarize the current research with a particular focus on the patterns of impaired ToM, potential mediators of ToM, and the impact of ToM deficits on clinical disability in PD. Further studies to investigate the progression of ToM and its relationship with dementia in subjects in PD are needed.

Theory of mind; Social cognition; Neuropsychology; Cognitive function; Parkinson’s disease