Mentalizing and its influence on face memory: A social cognitive and neural investigation

Open Access
Franklin, Robert Gene
Graduate Program:
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
July 27, 2011
Committee Members:
  • Reginald Adams Jr., Dissertation Advisor
  • Nancy Anne Coulter Dennis, Committee Member
  • Theresa K Vescio, Committee Member
  • Paul Joseph Eslinger, Committee Member
  • mentalizing
  • memory
  • face perception
  • functional MRI
Mentalizing, or determining what another is thinking or feeling, and face memory are two critical skills for social interaction. Despite extensive work about how we remember others and how we mentalize about them based on their face, little research has investigated if these two processes are related. I investigated if how much one mentalizes about a face affects face encoding. In Studies 1 and 2, I found that manipulating level of mentalizing led to greater memory for faces. Second, I examined the relationship between brain regions involved with mentalizing and those involved in face memory. In Study 3, faces that elicited more mentalizing led to greater activation in memory and mentalizing regions in an encoding memory task. In Study 4, experimentally manipulating mentalizing led to greater activation in mentalizing and face memory regions during a face encoding task.