Noradrenaline blockade specifically enhances metacognitive performance

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

DOI

  • Tobias U Hauser, Max Planck University College London Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, London, WC1B 5EH, United Kingdom.
  • ,
  • Micah Allen
  • Nina Purg, Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, WC1N 3BG, United Kingdom.
  • ,
  • Michael Moutoussis, Max Planck University College London Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, London, WC1B 5EH, United Kingdom.
  • ,
  • Geraint Rees, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London, London, WC1N 3AZ, United Kingdom.
  • ,
  • Raymond J Dolan, Max Planck University College London Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research, London, WC1B 5EH, United Kingdom.

Impairments in metacognition, the ability to accurately report one's performance, are common in patients with psychiatric disorders, where a putative neuromodulatory dysregulation provides the rationale for pharmacological interventions. Previously, we have shown how unexpected arousal modulates metacognition (Allen et al., 2016). Here, we report a double-blind, placebo-controlled, study that examined specific effects of noradrenaline and dopamine on both metacognition and perceptual decision making. Signal theoretic analysis of a global motion discrimination task with adaptive performance staircasing revealed that noradrenergic blockade (40 mg propranolol) significantly increased metacognitive performance (type-II area under the curve, AUROC2), but had no impact on perceptual decision making performance. Blockade of dopamine D2/3 receptors (400 mg amisulpride) had no effect on either metacognition or perceptual decision making. Our study is the first to show a pharmacological enhancement of metacognitive performance, in the absence of any effect on perceptual decision making. This enhancement points to a regulatory role for noradrenergic neurotransmission in perceptual metacognition.

Original languageEnglish
JournaleLife
Volume6
ISSN2050-084X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2017
Externally publishedYes

    Research areas

  • Adrenergic alpha-Agonists/administration & dosage, Adult, Decision Making/drug effects, Double-Blind Method, Female, Humans, Male, Metacognition/drug effects, Norepinephrine/administration & dosage, Placebos/administration & dosage, Psychomotor Performance/drug effects, Young Adult

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 143387245