False belief and verb non-factivity: A common neural basis?

Him CHEUNG, Lan CHEN, Ching-Yee SZETO, Gangyi FENG, Guangming LU, Zhiqiang ZHANG, Zude ZHU, Suiping WANG

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Using fMRI, the present study compares the brain activation underlying false belief thinking induced by pictorial, nonverbal material to that instigated by strong non-factive verbs in a sample of adult Chinese speakers. These verbs obligatorily negate their complements which describe the mind content of the sentence agent, and thus may activate part of the false belief network. Some previous studies have shown a behavioral correlation between verb non-factivity/false complementation and conventional false belief but corresponding neural evidence is lacking. Our results showed that the non-factive grammar and false belief commonly implicated the right temporo-parietal junction (TPJ), which had been shown by past studies to play a role in general mentalizing. Regions that were unique to nonverbal false belief were the left TPJ and right middle frontal gyrus (MFG), whereas the unique regions for the non-factive grammar were the left inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) and right superior temporal gyrus (STG). Hence, conventional nonverbal false belief and verb non-factivity have both shared and unique neural representations. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-364
JournalInternational Journal of Psychophysiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012


Cheung, H., Chen, L., Szeto, C.-Y., Feng, G., Lu, G., Zhang, Z., . . . Wang, S. (2012). False belief and verb non-factivity: A common neural basis? International Journal of Psychophysiology, 83(3), 357-364. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2011.12.002


  • False belief
  • Theory of mind
  • Mentalizing
  • Non-factive verb
  • Complement


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