Self-attributions and other-attributions revisited from a neural perspective
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Caruthers argues that the mindreading capacity and the introspective capacity are in fact one and the same capacity. This single capacity relies on the same sub-personal "interpretive" mechanism that takes sensory information as input and produces attitudes as output. I use neuroscience research to show that if the “interpretive mechanism” exists, and moreover that it operates in accordance to Caruthers’ description in mindreading tasks, (e.g. detecting external cues and paying attention to others’ behavior), then this operation would have to be handled or implemented at the neural level by the Task Oriented Neural Network. On the other hand, it is well known that self-referential thought, including introspective thought is handled by the Default Mode Network. This consequence is problematic for the view that self and other attitude attributions are done by the same mechanism. The same cognitive operation can not be implemented by two distinct neural networks that are in competition with one another. Moreover, the Default Mode neural network and the Task Oriented networks implement such different types of thinking that they oppose and interrupt one another’s functioning. If the only difference between the two networks were that one simply handles a larger quantity of information than the other, then they wouldn’t be in competition. It appears that there is indeed something special about the very nature of self-referential information such that it determines the type of operations involved in its processing.