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The term Theory of Mind (ToM) refers to the ability to infer others' mental states, and it has been related to frontal functioning. This brain area is also supposed to support Executive Functions (EF), broadly considered as processes that control and organise cognition and behaviour. Besides depending on closely related brain circuits, both ToM and EF jointly develop during infancy. Also, certain executive processes—such as inhibitory control or cognitive flexibility—are clearly needed to understand what other people might be feeling or thinking.
All of the above has led to the question of independence or mutual dependence between EF and ToM, an issue that has been in the centre of a long, yet inconclusive, debate. From initial studies …
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.