Autism and psychosis expressions diametrically modulate the right temporoparietal junction

Ahmad M. Abu-Akel, Ian A. Apperly, Stephen J. Wood, Peter C. Hansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The mentalizing network is atypically activated in autism and schizophrenia spectrum disorders. While these disorders are considered diagnostically independent, expressions of both can co-occur in the same individual. We examined the concurrent effect of autism traits and psychosis proneness on the activity of the mentalizing network in 24 neurotypical adults while performing a social competitive game. Activations were observed in the paracingulate cortex and the right temporoparietal junction (rTPJ). Autism traits and psychosis proneness did not modulate activity within the paracingulate or the dorsal component of the rTPJ. However, diametric modulations of autism traits and psychosis proneness were observed in the posterior (rvpTPJ) and anterior (rvaTPJ) subdivisions of the ventral rTPJ, which respectively constitute core regions within the mentalizing and attention-reorienting networks. Within the rvpTPJ, increasing autism tendencies decreased activity, and increasing psychosis proneness increased activity. This effect was reversed within the rvaTPJ. We suggest that this results from an interaction between regions responsible for higher level social cognitive processing (rvpTPJ) and regions responsible for domain-general attentional processes (rvaTPJ). The observed diametric modulation of autism tendencies and psychosis proneness of neuronal activity within the mentalizing network highlights the importance of assessing both autism and psychosis expressions within the individual.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)506-518
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Neuroscience
Issue number5
StatePublished - 3 Sep 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Attention-reorienting
  • TPJ
  • diametric model
  • fMRI
  • mentalizing
  • schizophrenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Development
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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