5 - Reading mental states of others versus self - the case of autism 

5 - Reading mental states of others versus self - the case of autism

PI: Professor Dr. Isabel Dziobek

Contact: isabel.dziobek@hu-berlin.de

Website: https://www.psychology.hu-berlin.de/en/staff/1687995

The understanding of others’ mental states, also referred to as mindreading, is an important predictor for successful social interaction. In the past decade, research has started to investigate self-knowledge about mental states and its relationship to other-knowledge. Interestingly, it has recently been suggested that knowing one’s own mental states rather than drawing on direct access results from turning our mindreading abilities on ourselves, i.e., the same mental capacity that is in place for mindreading others produces knowledge of own mental states when turned to oneself.

Autism is a developmental disorder that involves core deficits in understanding the mental states of others and there is preliminary evidence that it also involves impairments in understanding own mental states. Investigating the relationship between self and other knowledge about mental states in autism and other psychiatric conditions involving mindreading deficts can thus be taken to inform the question whether reading mental states of others’ and self represents indeed a common process.

This project aims to systematically explore this question on theoretical and empirical levels:

  • Theoretical analysis and systematic review of models, tasks/paradigms, and empirical evidence on self and other mindreading. Characterization of similarities to other common coding phenomena (e.g. shared representations for perception and action)
  • Empirical study: Contrasting of self and other mindreading between individuals with autism and typically developed individuals controls on the behavioral and brain level

Requirements for research topic 5

Applicants should have:

(1) A strong background in clinical psychology and/or cognitive neuroscience,
(2) Experience with neuroimaging experiments and data analysis,
(3) Experience with and interest in working in the highly interdisciplinary context (psychology, psychiatry, philosophy, neuroscience) of the Research Training Group,
(4) Willingness to fully participate in the research, education and training program of the RTG,
(5) Proficiency in English,
(6) Master's degree in a relevant field.

Applications for research topic 5

(1) A proposal for a doctoral project in research topic 5: "Reading mental states of others versus self - the case of autism" (max. 5 pages in Arial 11, single spaced, plus max. 3 pages references),
(2) A meaningful letter of motivation (max 2 pages),
(3) Full academic CV,
(4) Copies/scans of Bachelor's and Master's certificates,
(5) Transcript of records for Master's degree.

Please send the above in one PDF file of no more than 7 MB.

Please name the file as follows: YourName_RTG_Topic5

Application address


Deadline for applicants

currently no research positions advertised

Two letters of reference

Referees should send their letters of reference directly to: Dr. Dirk Mende, Fax +49 30 2093-89751 or mb-extrospection@hu-berlin.de

Guidelines for referees for Topic 5 - please send them to your referees:

Deadline for referees:




This page last updated on: 10 January 2022