The objectives of this SCORE 2 (SC2) grant are to identify cognitive and neural factors that drive subjective confidence in memory, and determine which of these are more tightly related to memory accuracy. Determining what kinds of confidence judgments are more accurate, and encouraging use of those kinds of judgments, may eventually lead to better memory awareness and compensation for any experienced decline in memory function and metamemory (i.e., knowledge of one's own memory) in specific neurologic and psychiatric disorders. The cognitive neuroscience of metamemory has been understudied given the consequences for public health. Neuroimaging studies have shown that the medial temporal lobes (MTL) and prefrontal cortices (PFC) contribute to memory and memory confidence. However, there is debate about how and when they contribute to confidence. Candidate mechanisms by which the MTL and PFC contribute to confidence include binding, subjective remembering, inferential reasoning, and monitoring. The experiments in this proposal aim to determine when MTL and PFC activity gives rise to subjective confidence, and to identify which sources of information form the basis for accurate confidence judgments (i.e., when confidence and accuracy are concordant). The proposed experiments provide a novel way to measure and track confidence judgments based on different sources of information, using eye tracking and fMRI. Eye movements can provide a sensitive measure of memory without requiring overt responses and are used in this proposal as an index of underlying cognitive mechanisms. With this increased specificity of the underlying cognitive mechanisms, combining eye tracking with fMRI will lead to a better specification of the neural mechanisms underlying memory confidence, and consequently a better understanding of the roles and functions of the MTL and PFC. Brooklyn College of the City University of New York provides an excellent environment for involving individuals from under-represented groups at all levels from faculty and graduate students to undergraduate and even high school students. Dr. Chua will be mentored by Dr. Lila Davachi, an Associate Professor at New York University, who has a productive and well-funded laboratory that has made significant contributions to determining the role of various medial temporal lobe structures in memory. With Dr. Davachi's mentorship, Dr. Chua will be well positioned to begin a strong, independent research career, enabling her to involve more students from under-represented minorities in quality research.
This project investigates cognitive and brain bases of confidence and accuracy in memory, and why confidence-accuracy dissociations can occur. Understanding confidence-accuracy dissociations in memory is important from a public health perspective because it has implications for medication adherence and the ability to compensate for cognitive deficits. Determining markers for confidence and accuracy also may be useful for diagnosis and developing interventions for specific deficits related to memory and awareness.