Mentalizing functions provide a conceptual link of brain function and social cognition in major mental disorders
2014
Authors: Schnell K
CellNetworks People: Schnell Knut
Journal: Psychopathology. 2014;47(6):408-16. doi: 10.1159/000366134. Epub 2014 Nov 7

The review presents a research perspective that defines mentalizing functions as a very promising topic to bridge psychopathology and neurobiological foundations of mental disorders. However, the high diversity of existing observations in mentalizing research calls for a structured assessment of functional mentalizing subdomains. A notable problem is the overlap of functional systems involved in mentalizing and emotion processing. A proposed solution is to conceptualize mentalizing functions due to their content (visuospatial vs. emotional) perspective and substrates (cognitive or explicit signals). This conceptual organization is mirrored in functional imaging experiments dissociating anteromedial and posterolateral brain regions, especially the involvement of the medial prefrontal cortex in mentalizing emotions and the temporoparietal cortex in visuospatial perspective taking. The present state and perspectives of mentalizing research are demonstrated in two major fields of mental disorders, depression and schizophrenia. In depression the existent contradictory findings demand a control of cognitive impairments, which are frequently associated with depressive disorders. In schizophrenia there is already consistent evidence that defines mentalizing functions as promising endophenotype, which can possibly link psychopathology to its neurobiological foundations.