Past Event

Theory of Mind - Seminars in Society and Neuroscience

October 20, 2016
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
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Italian Academy, Columbia University, 1161 Amsterdam Avenue, New York
A series of illustrated heads with different facial expressions on a beige background

The event recording is available via YouTube. 


  • Joshua Knobe, Professor of Philosophy and Psychology and Linguistics, Yale University
  • Laurie Santos, Professor of Psychology, Yale University
  • Rebecca Saxe, Professor, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Moderated by Patricia Kitcher, Roberta and William Campbell Professor of the Humanities, Columbia University

Theory of mind is the ability to make inferences about the mental and emotional states of others. Understanding that one’s thoughts, knowledge, desires, motives, and feelings can be different than those of someone else is a skill that takes young children many years to develop, and it requires the interrelated activity of a network of regions within the brain. How does theory of mind affect the way in which people interact with each other and make social, emotional, and even moral decisions? Is theory of mind unique to humans, or can other animals comprehend the intentions of their own and other species?

This event is free and open to the public. 

This event is part of the Presidential Scholars in Society and Neuroscience Seminars in Society and Neuroscience series.