Research in Spatial Cognition Lab
Temple Neurocognition Lab
Perspective taking in spatial and social contexts
Perspective taking (PT) is the ability to imagine perspectives that differ from our own. Understanding what others believe (cognitive PT) and feel (affective PT) allows us to better navigate social situations, and understanding what others see (spatial PT) allows us to better navigate spatial environments. However, the general cognitive mechanisms that support PT and whether spatial, cognitive, and affective PT share behavioral co-variance and rely on common neural mechanisms is not yet understood. Common mechanisms accounts propose that PT in these domains all rely on a common process facilitated by dorsal and ventral attentional systems in conjunction with working memory and long-term memory systems. That is, various kinds of PT may be linked because common attentional processes facilitate comparison and selection of competing frame-of-reference representations when they unexpectedly enter working memory from the environment or long-term memory. I will present an activation likelihood estimation meta-analysis and a large behavioral experiment which probed the association of PT abilities, and their association with attention. Results refute common mechanisms accounts, suggesting that different types of PT rely on dissociable neural mechanisms and share little to no behavioral co-variance. These findings also motivate an important discussion on the validity of current perspective-taking measures, the role of memory and attention in these paradigms, and how measurement of PT may be improved.