Cognitive and neuronal mechanism of metacognitive awareness.

The goal of the project is to determine cognitive and neural mechanisms of metacognitive awareness that allows participants to assess the content of their memory and perception. Recently two broad theoretical frameworks for understanding awareness have gained popularity and empirical support: evidence accumulation model and information integration model. We assume that the predictions of these models are not mutually exclusive and can explain different aspects of metacognitive awareness formation. Having integrated the results of studies on consciousness, decision-making and performance monitoring (crucial for metacognitive judgments) we pose three research questions: (1) what is the role of evidence accumulation in metacognitive awareness; (2) what types of information are integrated in the process of metacognitive awareness formation; and (3) whether the mechanisms responsible for metacognitive awareness are different for visual awareness and awareness of memory content.

We will use standard cognitive psychology experimental procedures (backward masking, change blindness, cued recall task and insight task). We will modify the tasks to make them more suitable for testing the mechanisms of metacognitive awareness formation. Apart from computerized tasks we will use EEG and TMS, which will enable us to describe the temporal dynamics of metacognitive judgments formation and to localize the involved brain areas. We will not only use behavioral and psychophysiological measures but also subjective scales of consciousness and metacognitive scales (e.g. stimulus visibility or decision confidence).

The results of the project will allow us to integrate two models of consciousness together with contemporary knowledge on metacognition and decision-making. They will be important for methodology of measuring metacognitive awareness, showing what kinds of factors (e.g. order or time between performance and metacognitive judgment) influence metacognitive judgments and what is the mechanism of this influence. What is more important, the results of proposed studies will be significant not only within the context of previously described research areas but also for the broader understanding of human’s higher cognitive functions, such as cognitive control or conscious processing.