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The ability to attribute thoughts to others, also called theory of mind (TOM), has been extensively studied in humans; however, its evolutionary origins have been challenged. Computationally, the basis of TOM has been interpreted within the predictive coding framework and associated with activity in the temporoparietal junction (TPJ). Here, we revealed, using a nonlinguistic task and functional magnetic resonance imaging, that activity in a region of the macaque middle superior temporal cortex was specifically modulated by the predictability of social situations. As in human TPJ, this region could be distinguished from other temporal regions involved in face processing. Our result suggests the existence of a precursor for the TOM ability in the last common ancestor of human and Old World monkeys.

Original publication




Journal article


Sci Adv

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