Points of view – theory of mind and perspective taking in dementia

Summary

The capacity to spontaneously infer the thoughts, feelings, and perspectives of others provides the foundation for successful social functioning. Mounting evidence points to gross disturbances in theory of mind in frontotemporal dementia, yet the underlying mechanisms supporting this ability remain unclear. This project seeks to tease apart the cognitive and neural mechanisms which support the capacity for perspective-taking in social and non-social contexts. By studying how these functions are compromised in neurological disorders such as dementia, we can gain crucial insights into how the brain supports uniquely human cognitive endeavours.

Supervisor(s)

Associate Professor Muireann Irish

Research Location

School of Psychology

Program Type

Masters/PHD

Synopsis

Much of social behaviour is predicated upon our capacity to spontaneously infer and understand the thoughts, beliefs, and feelings of other people. Disturbances in theory of mind are common in frontotemporal dementia, and may contribute to a host of social cognitive and behavioural dysfunction typically seen in this disorder. This project will use novel experimental tasks and advanced neuroimaging techniques to uncover the cognitive and neural mechanisms that must be functional to support theory of mind, offering new insights into the neurocircuity of the social brain.

Additional Information

Muireann is committed to equity and diversity in her research team. These projects may also be suitable for Honours students.

HDR Inherent Requirements

In addition to the academic requirements set out in the Science Postgraduate Handbook, you may be required to satisfy a number of inherent requirements to complete this degree. Example of inherent requirement may include:

- Confidential disclosure and registration of a disability that may hinder your performance in your degree;
- Confidential disclosure of a pre-existing or current medical condition that may hinder your performance in your degree (e.g. heart disease, pace-maker, significant immune suppression, diabetes, vertigo, etc.);
- Ability to perform independently and/or with minimal supervision;
- Ability to undertake certain physical tasks (e.g. heavy lifting);
- Ability to undertake observatory, sensory and communication tasks;
- Ability to spend time at remote sites (e.g. One Tree Island, Narrabri and Camden);
- Ability to work in confined spaces or at heights;
- Ability to operate heavy machinery (e.g. farming equipment);
- Hold or acquire an Australian driver’s licence;
- Hold a current scuba diving license;
- Hold a current Working with Children Check;
- Meet initial and ongoing immunisation requirements (e.g. Q-Fever, Vaccinia virus, Hepatitis, etc.)

You must consult with your nominated supervisor regarding any identified inherent requirements before completing your application.

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Keywords

Social cognition; theory of mind; memory; dementia; neuroimaging

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 2256

Other opportunities with Associate Professor Muireann Irish