Decision Making Journal Club

Metacognitive Confidence Increases with, but Does Not Determine, Visual Perceptual Learning

While perceptual learning increases objective sensitivity, the effects on the constant interaction of the process of perception and its metacognitive evaluation have been rarely investigated. Visual perception has been described as a process of probabilistic inference featuring metacognitive evaluations of choice certainty. For visual motion perception in healthy, naive human subjects here we show that perceptual sensitivity and confidence in it increased with training. The metacognitive sensitivity–estimated from certainty ratings by a bias-free signal detection theoretic approach–in contrast, did not. Concomitant 3Hz transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) was applied in compliance with previous findings on effective high-low cross-frequency coupling subserving signal detection. While perceptual accuracy and confidence in it improved with training, there were no statistically significant tACS effects. Neither metacognitive sensitivity in distinguishing between their own correct and incorrect stimulus classifications, nor decision confidence itself determined the subjects’ visual perceptual learning. Improvements of objective performance and the metacognitive confidence in it were rather determined by the perceptual sensitivity at the outset of the experiment. Post-decision certainty in visual perceptual learning was neither independent of objective performance, nor requisite for changes in sensitivity, but rather covaried with objective performance. The exact functional role of metacognitive confidence in human visual perception has yet to be determined.