Do false belief and verb non-factivity share similar neural circuits?

Lan CHEN, Him CHEUNG, Ching-Yee SZETO, Zude ZHU, Suiping WANG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The present study investigates whether the complement falsity elicited by strong non-factive verbs and the false belief activated by a standard nonverbal false belief task produce similar electrophysiological activities in the brain. The hypothesis is based on the notion that both complement falsity and false belief involve decoupling a false mental representation from reality. Some previous studies have reported a behavioral correlation between children's false belief reasoning and interpretation of strong non-factive verbs together with their false complements, but a neural basis for this correlation has not been found. Our event-related potential (ERP) results with normal adults showed that both nonverbal false belief and strong non-factive verb comprehension elicited a negative late slow waveform divergence compared to their respective baselines. Although these slow waves due to the two types of stimuli had slightly different scalp distributions, both were regarded as reflecting primarily frontal activation. Such ERP similarity provides evidence for a common neural basis shared by nonverbal false belief reasoning and comprehension of strong non-factive verbs. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-42
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Feb 2012


Chen, L., Cheung, H., Szeto, C.-Y., Zhu, Z., & Wang, S. (2012). Do false belief and verb non-factivity share similar neural circuits? Neuroscience Letters, 510(1), 38-42. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2011.12.065


  • Theory of mind
  • False belief
  • Decoupling
  • Non-factive verb
  • False complement


Dive into the research topics of 'Do false belief and verb non-factivity share similar neural circuits?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.