The ability of the mind to understand that the beliefs, desires, and intentions of others can be different is central to human cooperation. Reading the mind of others is a sign of cognitive development. Babies can think before they can talk. Even babies as young as seven months acquire the capacity to understand the minds of others. According to researchers, infants are sensitive to social information and to what others see, and that helps them to develop their mind-reading skills. According to one hypothesis, children gradually deduce that other people have internal experiences that are different from their own by observing the facial expressions and gestures of others over time. We read minds through intuition or introspection and understanding others’ emotions and actions. It is our experiences, perceptions, associations, feelings, memories, and orientation in the world that help us in reading other minds.
Language helps us communicate our thoughts and intentions, and has the key to read other people’s minds. It brings us closer to other people’s thoughts and shapes the way we see the world. It is both an innate faculty and learned behaviour. Both heredity and environment are important for language acquisition. Researchers say, when one is learning a language, she or he is not simply learning a new way of talking, she or he is learning a new way of thinking. Language skill is not enough. One must also know the way to externalize thoughts through language.
Neuroscientists, while studying the brain of a macaque monkey, came across a cluster of cells in the premotor cortex that fired not only when the monkey acted, but likewise when the monkey saw the same action performed by someone else. Called mirror neurons, this cluster plays a very important role in imitation and language acquisition. The mirror neurons are important for understanding the actions of other people, and for learning new skills by imitation. Based on the studies made on congenitally blind adults, neuroscientists say that blind adults develop a mature theory of mind and use the same brain region as sighted people to know the mental states of others. These studies have shown that the way the brain reasons about the beliefs of others does not depend on visual observations. The researchers also suggest that hearing the language is particularly important for understanding others, while other kinds of experience, such as the visual modality, are less important.