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Human metacognition across domains: insights from individual differences and neuroimaging

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Marion Rouault, Andrew McWilliams, Micah G Allen, Stephen M Fleming

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere17
JournalPersonality neuroscience
Accepted/In press2 May 2018
Published10 Aug 2018

King's Authors


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.

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