Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Brain connections underlying accurate introspection revealed

Date:
October 16, 2013
Source:
University of California - Santa Barbara
Summary:
The human mind is not only capable of cognition and registering experiences but also of being introspectively aware of these processes. Until now, scientists have not known if such introspection was a single skill or dependent on the object of reflection. Also unclear was whether the brain housed a single system for reflecting on experience or required multiple systems to support different types of introspection.

A. This shows seed regions. B. This shows functional magnetic resonance imaging connectivity results. Top two panels: Metacognitive accuracy for perceptual decisions is associated with increased connectivity between the lateral anterior prefrontal cortex (aPFC) seed region and the right dorsal anterior cingulate cortex, bilateral putamen, right caudate and thalamus. Bottom two panels: Metacognitive accuracy for memory is associated with increased connectivity between the medial aPFC and right precuneus and the right intraparietal sulcus /inferior parietal lobule.
Credit: UCSB

The human mind is not only capable of cognition and registering experiences but also of being introspectively aware of these processes. Until now, scientists have not known if such introspection was a single skill or dependent on the object of reflection. Also unclear was whether the brain housed a single system for reflecting on experience or required multiple systems to support different types of introspection.

Related Articles


A new study by UC Santa Barbara graduate student Benjamin Baird and colleagues suggest that the ability to accurately reflect on perceptual experience and the ability to accurately reflect on memories were uncorrelated, suggesting that they are distinct introspective skills. The findings appear in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The researchers used classic perceptual decision and memory retrieval tasks in tandem with functional magnetic resonance imaging to determine connectivity to regions in the front tip of the brain, commonly referred to as the anterior prefrontal cortex. The study tested a person's ability to reflect on his or her perception and memory and then examined how individual variation in each of these capacities was linked to the functional connections of the medial and lateral parts of the anterior prefrontal cortex.

"Our results suggest that metacognitive or introspective ability may not be a single thing," Baird said. "We actually find a behavioral dissociation between the two metacognitive abilities across people, which suggests that you can be good at reflecting on your memory but poor at reflecting on your perception, or vice versa."

The newly published research adds to the literature describing the role of the medial and lateral areas of the anterior prefrontal cortex in metacognition and suggests that specific subdivisions of this area may support specific types of introspection. The findings of Baird's team demonstrate that the ability to accurately reflect on perception is associated with enhanced connectivity between the lateral region of the anterior prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate, a region involved in coding uncertainty and errors of performance.

In contrast, the ability to accurately reflect on memory is linked to enhanced connectivity between the medial anterior prefrontal cortex and two areas of the brain: the precuneus and the lateral parietal cortex, regions prior work has shown to be involved in coding information pertaining to memories.

The experiment assessed the metacognitive abilities of 60 participants at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, where Baird was a visiting researcher. The perceptual decision task consisted of visual displays with six circles of vertical alternating light and dark bars -- called Gabor gratings -- arranged around a focal point. Participants were asked to identify whether the first or second display featured one of the six areas with a slight tilt, not always an easy determination to make.

A classic in psychology literature, the memory retrieval task consisted of two parts. First, participants were shown a list of 145 words. They were then shown a second set of words and asked to distinguish those they had seen previously. After each stimulus in both the perceptual decision and the memory retrieval task, participants rated their confidence in the accuracy of their responses on a scale of 1 (low confidence) to 6 (high confidence).

"Part of the novelty of this study is that it is the first to examine how connections between different regions of the brain support metacognitive processes," Baird said. "Also, prior means of computing metacognitive accuracy have been shown to be confounded by all kinds of things, like how well you do the primary task or your inherent bias toward high or low confidence.

"Using these precise measures, we're now beginning to drill down and see how different types of introspection are actually housed in the real human brain," Baird concluded. "So it's pretty fascinating from that perspective."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of California - Santa Barbara. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of California - Santa Barbara. "Brain connections underlying accurate introspection revealed." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131016100432.htm>.
University of California - Santa Barbara. (2013, October 16). Brain connections underlying accurate introspection revealed. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131016100432.htm
University of California - Santa Barbara. "Brain connections underlying accurate introspection revealed." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131016100432.htm (accessed October 26, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

Academic Scandal Shocks UNC

AP (Oct. 23, 2014) A scandal involving bogus classes and inflated grades at the University of North Carolina was bigger than previously reported, a new investigation found. (Oct. 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother Getaway: Beaches Turks & Caicos

Working Mother (Oct. 22, 2014) Feast your eyes on this gorgeous family-friendly resort. Video provided by Working Mother
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Your Favorite Color Says About You

What Your Favorite Color Says About You

Buzz60 (Oct. 22, 2014) We all have one color we love to wear, and believe it or not, your color preference may reveal some of your character traits. In celebration of National Color Day, Krystin Goodwin (@kyrstingoodwin) highlights what your favorite colors may say about you. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins