The capacity to monitor one's state of learning, knowing, and remembering is critical to every intellectual and educational activity. Understanding the cognitive organization of this capacity in adult humans, and tracing its phylogenetic emergence, would support the development of animal models for metacognition, expand the range of metacognitive paradigms available to researchers, help illuminate the earliest roots of metacognition in human children, support the study of metacognition in language-delayed or autistic children, and possibly ground efforts to train metacognition in educationally challenged populations. Accordingly, this project explores the cognitive-monitoring and cognitive-control capacity that is called metacognition. The research design includes tasks that assess the monitoring of mental states by humans and nonhuman primates and their guiding control over their cognitive processes. These tasks will allow humans and monkeys to decline to complete difficult trials, to rate their confidence, to allocate study time adaptively, to self-evaluate their memory, and to judge the quality of their learning. Using these tasks, the proposed research will study the role of reinforcement/learning in metacognition, asking whether uncertainty and confidence can show independence from learning history and reinforcement contingencies while generalizing flexibly to novel tasks. The research will use methods of process dissociation from cognitive neuroscience to evaluate whether metacognitive judgments are executive and attentional in psychological character. It will ask whether metacognition is possible during temporally-extended problem solving by humans and animals, thus approaching metacognition chronometrically for the first time. It will explore-through the use of confidence wagers and performance-confidence dissociations and concordances- the level of awareness that accompanies metacognition in humans and animals. It will broaden the comparative study of metacognition by examining judgments-of-learning and memory-quality criteria for the first time. It will also broaden the comparative study of metacognition by examining the cognitive-control dimension of metacognition. Cognitive control-by which information-processing strategies and information- gathering activities are flexibly tailored to task performance-is also a critical educational function.

Public Health Relevance

Monitoring one's state of learning, remembering, and knowing is critical to every intellectual and educational activity. Understanding the cognitive organization of this capacity in adult humans and tracing its evolutionary emergence would support the development of animal models for metacognition, expand the range of metacognitive paradigms available to researchers, help illuminate the earliest roots of metacognition in human children, support the study of metacognition in language delayed or autistic children, and possibly ground efforts to train metacognition in educationally challenged populations.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
5R01HD061455-04
Application #
8429441
Study Section
Cognition and Perception Study Section (CP)
Program Officer
Freund, Lisa S
Project Start
2010-04-01
Project End
2015-01-31
Budget Start
2013-02-01
Budget End
2014-01-31
Support Year
4
Fiscal Year
2013
Total Cost
$199,547
Indirect Cost
$34,857
Name
State University of New York at Buffalo
Department
Psychology
Type
Schools of Arts and Sciences
DUNS #
038633251
City
Buffalo
State
NY
Country
United States
Zip Code
14260
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Sayers, Ken; Evans, Theodore A; Menzel, Emilie et al. (2015) The misbehaviour of a metacognitive monkey. Behaviour 152:727-756

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