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Distinct Neural Contributions To Metacognition For Detecting, But Not Discriminating Visual Stimuli

Matan Mazor, Karl J. Friston, S. Fleming
Published 2020 · Psychology, Medicine

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Being confident in whether a stimulus is present or absent (a detection judgment) is qualitatively distinct from being confident in the identity of that stimulus (a discrimination judgment). In particular, in detection, evidence can only be available for the presence, not the absence, of a target object. This asymmetry suggests that higher-order cognitive and neural processes may be required for confidence in detection, and more specifically, in judgments about absence. In a within-subject, pre-registered and performance-matched fMRI design, we observed quadratic confidence effects in frontopolar cortex for detection but not discrimination. Furthermore, in the right temporoparietal junction, confidence effects were enhanced for judgments of target absence compared to judgments of target presence. We interpret these findings as reflecting qualitative differences between a neural basis for metacognitive evaluation of detection and discrimination, potentially in line with counterfactual or higher-order models of confidence formation in detection.
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