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  Perceptual and cognitive metacognition have divergent structural substrates: A multi-modal MRI study

Valk, S. L., Bernhardt, B. C., Böckler, A., & Singer, T. (2015). Perceptual and cognitive metacognition have divergent structural substrates: A multi-modal MRI study. Poster presented at 21st Annual Meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM), Honolulu, HI, USA.

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Valk, Sofie L.1, Author           
Bernhardt, Boris C.1, Author           
Böckler, Anne1, Author           
Singer, Tania1, Author           
1Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society, ou_634552              


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 Abstract: Introduction: An important question in neuroscience research is whether metacognition, the insight about one's own perceptions, thoughts, and actions represents an overall, domain-general capacity, or whether it is domain-specific. The current study sought to investigate whether metacognition about perceptual and cognitive processes are dissociable in brain and behavior. The current study combined behavioral phenotyping in a large sample of healthy individuals with multi-modal MRI investigations, to assess whether metacognition on perception and high-level cognition have different structural substrates. Methods: We studied 155 participants (91 women, mean±SD age=40.1±9.5 years), with a normal-to-high IQ (mean±SD 114.5±15.2, range=78-152). Perceptual metacognition was assessed using a visual discrimination task (Fleming et al., 2010). Participants were asked to rate whether the first of second presentation of six Gabor stimuli was tilted, followed by a confidence rating. To assess meta-cognition of cognition, we employed a novel paradigm (Kanske et al., in prep) in which, participants watched a 15-second video story, prior to answering a multiple-choice question probing mentalizing or factual reasoning which was, in turn, followed by confidence ratings. Metacognitive scores in each domain were calculated using ROC-curves that took into account accuracy and confidence (Kombrot, 2006), T1- and diffusion-weighted MRI were acquired on a 3T Siemens Verio. We used FreeSurfer to generate cortical surface models and to measure cortical thickness on T1-weighted images (Fischl and Dale, 2000), and FSL to preprocess diffusion MRI. Fractional diffusion anisotropy was sampled along pericortical surfaces running at 2mm depth below the grey-white matter interface. Analysis was performed using SurfStat (Worsley et al., 2009), controlled for multiple comparisons at FWE<0.05. Results: On a behavioral level, individual differences in perceptual and cognitive metacognition did not correlate with one another, nor with IQ. Cortical thickness and diffusion MRI analysis suggested divergent structural substrates underlying individual differences in both metacognitive capacities. While individual differences in metacognition on perception was associated with individual differences in cortical thickness in anterior and medial prefrontal cortices, individual differences in metacognition on cognitive metacognition correlated with thickness in lateral prefrontal, lateral temporal, temporo-parietal, and midline parietal cortices (Figure 1). Assessing pericortical diffusion anisotropy, substrates of both metacognitive capacities were more focal, yet in overlapping regions as identified through the cortical morphology findings (Figure 2). Conclusions: Our multi-method results based on a large cohort provide behavioral and structural MRI evidence that metacognition on perception on the one hand and on cognition on the other, quantified using a novel paradigm, are probably distinct. These findings speak for a domain-specific rather than a domain general nature of metacognitive processes.


 Dates: 2015-06
 Publication Status: Not specified
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Title: 21st Annual Meeting of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping (OHBM)
Place of Event: Honolulu, HI, USA
Start-/End Date: 2015-06-14 - 2015-06-18

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