Theory of mind (ToM) refers to humans' ability to recognize the existence of mental states, such as beliefs, emotions, and desires. The literature on ToM in aging and on the relationship between ToM and other cognitive functions, like executive functions, is not homogenous. The aim of the present study was to explore the course of ToM and to investigate the role of working memory, inhibition, and language on the possible age differences in ToM. To address these issues, we examined ToM using the Strange Stories task and executive function task in three age groups. Results showed that young adults outperform both old groups on the ToM stories. This difference remains significant also when controlling for working memory and inhibitory control. Our findings suggest a specific impairment in inferring mental states starting from 60 years of age that seems to be independent of changes in executive functions.
|Number of pages||18|
|Journal||International Journal of Aging and Human Development|
|Publication status||Published - 2013|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geriatrics and Gerontology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology