Decision Making Journal Club

You’d Better Think Twice: Post-Decision Perceptual Confidence

Current findings suggest that confidence emerges only after decision making. However, the temporal and neural dynamics of the emergence of post-decision confidence – a metacognitive judgement – are not fully explored. To gain insight into the dynamics of post-decision confidence processing and to disentangle the processes underlying confidence judgements and decision making, we applied a tactile discrimination task during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Our results revealed that reaction times to post-decision confidence depend on the level of confidence, suggesting that post-decision confidence in a perceptual choice is not processed in parallel to perceptual decision making. Moreover, we demonstrated by the parametric analysis of fMRI data that post-decisionally modelled confidence processing can be distinguished from processes related to decision making through anatomical location and through the pattern of neural activity. In contrast to perceptual decision making, post-decision confidence appears to be strictly allocated to a prefrontal network of brain regions, primarily the anterior and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, areas that have been related to metacognition. Moreover, the processes underlying decision making and post-decision confidence may share recruitment of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, although the former probably has distinct functions with regard to processing of perceptual choices and post-decision confidence. Thus, this is the first fMRI study to disentangle the processes underlying post-decision confidence and decision making on behavioural, neuroanatomical, and neurofunctional levels. With regard to the temporal evolution of post-decision confidence, results of the present study provide strong support for the most recent theoretical models of human perceptual decision making, and thus provide implications for investigating confidence in perceptual paradigms.