Theory of mind in schizotypy: A behavioral and event-related potential (ERP) study

Carole Leung, Ka Shun Lei, Shu Mei Wang, Bess Yin Hung Lam (Corresponding Author)

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Schizophrenia is known for their theory of mind (ToM) impairment. However, this impairment in schizotypy (schizotypal traits) lacks investigation. Aims: The present study investigated: (1) whether ToM ability was impaired in schizotypy; (2) whether the ERP amplitudes in nine brain regions of interest associated with ToM (e.g., frontal region) in schizotypy and healthy controls differed; and (3) whether the relationship between ToM performances and ERP amplitudes in schizotypy differed from that in healthy controls. Method: Forty eight adolescents and young adults (16 schizotypy) with the mean age of 18 years were tested. The Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET) was used to assess their ToM during which ERP amplitudes were recorded. Results: The schizotypy group showed significantly lower ERP amplitudes in all conditions of RMET in frontal, frontal-central, central, occipital and temporal regions when compared to those in healthy controls. Also, schizotypy's ERP amplitudes in the frontal, frontal-central, central, occipital, and temporal regions were different from those in the healthy individuals in responding to different types of ToM stimuli (positive, negative and neutral). In schizotypy group, reaction time responding to emotional stimuli was negatively related to ERP amplitudes in the frontal, central-parietal, parietal, occipital, and occipito-temporal regions during RMET while no significant correlations were found in healthy controls. Conclusion: The present findings inform us with the knowledge regarding the neural and behavioral abnormality of ToM in schizotypy, suggesting that brain activity can be an alternative to detect ToM impairment in schizotypy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100190
JournalSchizophrenia Research: Cognition
Early online date8 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021


  • Brain activity
  • Event-related potential
  • Schizotypy
  • Theory of mind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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