Human metacognition across domains: insights from individual differences and neuroimaging

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  • Marion Rouault, The Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging, University College London, London, UK.
  • ,
  • Andrew McWilliams, Cardiovascular Imaging Department, Cardiothoracic Unit, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust, London WC1N 3JH, United Kingdom.
  • ,
  • Micah G Allen
  • Stephen M Fleming, Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, University College London, London, UK.

Metacognition is the capacity to evaluate and control one's own cognitive processes. Metacognition operates over a range of cognitive domains, such as perception and memory, but the neurocognitive architecture supporting this ability remains controversial. Is metacognition enabled by a common, domain-general resource that is recruited to evaluate performance on a variety of tasks? Or is metacognition reliant on domain-specific modules? This article reviews recent literature on the domain-generality of human metacognition, drawing on evidence from individual differences and neuroimaging. A meta-analysis of behavioral studies found that perceptual metacognitive ability was correlated across different sensory modalities, but found no correlation between metacognition of perception and memory. However, evidence for domain-generality from behavioral data may suffer from a lack of power to identify correlations across model parameters indexing metacognitive efficiency. Neuroimaging data provide a complementary perspective on the domain-generality of metacognition, revealing co-existence of neural signatures that are common and distinct across tasks. We suggest that such an architecture may be appropriate for "tagging" generic feelings of confidence with domain-specific information, in turn forming the basis for priors about self-ability and modulation of higher-order behavioral control.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPersonality neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 10 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes

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