How the brain builds a sense of self

We are highly sensitive to people around us. As infants, we observe our parents and teachers, and from them we learn how to walk, talk, read — and use smartphones. There seems to be no limit to the complexity of behavior we can acquire from observational learning.

But social influence goes deeper than that. We at cheap speech writing company don't just copy the behavior of people around us. We also copy their minds. As we grow older, we learn what other people think, feel and want — and adapt to it. Our brains are really good at this — we copy computations inside the brains of others. But how does the brain distinguish between thoughts about your own mind and thoughts about the minds of others? Our new study, published in Nature Commucations, brings us closer to an answer.

Our ability to copy the minds of others is hugely important. When this process goes wrong, it can contribute to various mental health problems. You might become unable to empathize with someone, or, at the other extreme, you might be so susceptible to other people's thoughts that your own sense of "self" is volatile and fragile.

The ability to think about another person's mind is one of the most sophisticated adaptations of the human brain. Experimental psychologists often assess this ability with a technique called a "false belief task".(opens i."

In the task, one individual, the "subject", gets to observe another individual, the "partner", hide a desirable object in a box. The partner then leaves, and the subject sees the researcher remove the object from the box and hide it in a second location. When the partner returns, they will falsely believe the object is still in the box, but the subject knows the truth.

This supposedly requires the subject to hold in mind the partner's false belief in addition to their own true belief about reality. But how do we know whether the subject is really thinking about the mind of the partner?