Rebecca Saxe: How we read each other's minds

Posted on May 28, 2013

Sensing the motives and feelings of others is a natural talent for humans. But how do we do it? Here, Rebecca Saxe shares fascinating lab work that uncovers how the brain thinks about other peoples' thoughts -- and judges their actions.

Rebecca Saxe studies how we think about other people's thoughts. At the Saxelab at MIT, she uses fMRI to identify what happens in our brains when we consider the motives, passions and beliefs of others.

Rebecca:"To me, the most breathtaking idea I've ever heard is that each thought a person ever has, every moment of experience, of insight, of reflection, of aspiration, is equivalent to a pattern of brain cells firing in space and time. How does a pattern of brain activity constitute a moral judgment? A moment of empathy for a fictional character? The idea for a sentence you're about to write? Someday, scientists will be able to imagine, simultaneously, these abstract thoughts and how each corresponds to a specific pattern of brain activity. I don't expect this understanding to arrive in my lifetime. But it's thrilling to imagine that future, and to feel that my research might be a small step on the route that gets us there."

Source material from TED